Injury Prevention – Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com Your Online Source for Running Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:49:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.2 http://running.competitor.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2017/06/cropped-android-chrome-512x512-32x32.png Injury Prevention – Competitor.com http://running.competitor.com 32 32 Overcoming the Obstacle of Injury And How To Stay Sane During Recovery http://running.competitor.com/2017/10/injury-prevention/overcoming-obstacle-injury_168968 Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:19:05 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=168968 Professional runner Neely Spence Gracey shares how to stay sane during a tough injury and tips for easing back into training.

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I’ve been trying to think of how to spin the process of overcoming injury in a positive way. Yay for late nights, no early morning sessions in the dark, extra round of drinks on Friday night; but the façade only carries me so far. Injuries suck. I don’t want to tell you otherwise, but I do want to show you how injuries can be a part of success. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or fun, but here are some tips on how to stay mentally strong throughout your healing time based off of my personal experience. And lastly, I share the difficult, yet so important, necessity of slow progression back to training. Since we can’t get running, let’s get reading.

Part of Success

While it is hard to believe, injuries are part of the pathway to success. Each injury provides an opportunity for growth as a person and athlete. An injury means I pushed the body too hard, the miles were too long, the life stress was too much, or there was too little rest. Often it’s a combination of multiple factors that have created this perfect storm. What it comes down to is that I pushed my body to the point where it wasn’t able to keep up with recovery to match the training load.

The way we all get better in many aspects of life is by pushing the limits to see what we are truly capable of. Even though injuries suck, it shows that we are working hard towards a goal, and that with smarter training, and recognizing which factors we need to be more cautious with in the future, we can heal and get back to training with an even better plan towards success.

RELATED: 5 Things The Most Successful Runners Do Every Day

Mental Aspect

Being committed to a goal means that you don’t just sort of do something, you do it with mind, soul, and body fully invested. I’ve had my fair share of great performances, devastating injuries, solid training blocks, season ending illnesses, and incredible moments of seeing commitment and perseverance through it all pay off two fold.

The emotional and psychological part of being a runner with an injury is that running isn’t just something that’s done occasionally. Runners are a community and running is a lifestyle. We prioritize our training, we structure life around getting in our miles, we absorb what we do and it becomes part of who we are. Injuries derail us from running, and then we feel lost, out of sorts, and on the brink of an identity crisis. Who am I if I’m not a runner?  Everyone handles their time away from the sport differently. A few key things that help me while I’m injured:

 1. Stay busy. Use the time you would otherwise be running to catch up with friends, deep clean, travel, focus on your other hobbies, and emphasize resetting the body while keeping life moving forward. Often with injuries, it’s just a waiting game. Time has to pass for you to heal. And time flies when you’re busy!

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 2. Stay Sane. Sometimes I just need to sweat. Of course your options are varied based on the nature and location of your injury, but I utilize the pool, elliptical/elliptiGO, spin bike, hiking, lifting, core workouts, rock climbing, TRX, HIIT classes, bar classes, pilates, and yoga. When I had knee surgery, I even used the rower and arm bike. If I can get 30-60 minutes of exercise in the morning, I feel so much more positive for the rest of my day.

3. Stay Supported. The most crucial part of dealing with an injury is understanding what is wrong so you know how to heal it. Get the answers, then get a plan. I work closely with my support system of trusted physical therapists, chiropractors, doctors, coaches and mentors to develop a progression back to chasing my goals. Having those who you can lean on helps us not feel so alone in the process of recovery.

RELATED: The Mental Side of Recovery

The Slow Come Back

We take all this time off, and all we think about is running again. But when we finally get the go-ahead, it is essential to not rush fitness. I usually take a week to run lightly every other day. Only 20-30 minutes at a time. Coming back after surgery in 2014, my first run in 4 months was 2x5min jog with 5min walk in between. It was the best/worst run of my life. I was so elated to finally run again. And I was so devastated that it was so short. It made me feel like my goals were impossible. How could I ever run PRs and train 100 miles per week when I could only run 5 minutes at a time? (Just so you know, I was fine. Within the next year I ran a PR in every distance and qualified for the Olympic Trials.)

Taking your time, easing back to training, and listening to the body is how you will have a steady progression back to fitness. If you rush it, you risk having to start the healing process all over again. I hate this part, but having my husband being firm about my low mileage is something I so appreciate (even though we fight about it). I need him there to not let my crazies get me overzealous. Find someone who can help keep you accountable too!

I have good days during injury where I am positive and motivated. I do everything I am supposed to and I’m upbeat about getting through and coming out better on the other side. And then I have bad days where I am depressed about not running and unmotivated to cross train. I give up on my body because I don’t think it’s healing quick enough, and I’m not a fun person to be around. I’ve learned this is normal. But striving for more good days than bad is essential. Remember, you’re not alone, because within this awesome community of runners, mostly all of us can relate to being derailed at some point with injury. It is part of the process as we strive for success.

Until next time, stay mentally strong, ease back to training slowly, and I will see you out on the trails and roads again soon. Let’s get (back to) running!

RELATED: Here’s Exactly How To Crush Your Next Half Marathon

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About the Author

Neely lives in Boulder, Colo., with her husband Dillon and their Vizsla, Strider. She enjoys the daily grind of training and competing as one of America’s top female distance runners. She has personal best times of 15:25 for 5K, 32:16 for 10K, 1:09 for the half marathon, and 2:34 for the marathon. In her free time, she enjoys helping others pursue their goals through her Get Running coaching business. Follow her on instagram or twitter @neelysgracey and learn more about Neely on her website www.neelyruns.com.

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2 Fundamental Injury Prevention Tips From The World’s Best Runners http://running.competitor.com/2017/09/injury-prevention/injury-prevention-tips-best-runners_168575 Tue, 26 Sep 2017 17:54:02 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=168575 A professional obstacle course racer and an ultrarunner share their best advice for injury prevention. Here are a couple tips.

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Staying healthy when you’re putting in the mileage, speed workouts, and long runs to reach your running goals can be daunting.

After all, up to 75 percent of runners will get hurt this year!

That rate of injury makes focusing on prevention a no-brainer. If you can prevent more injuries, you’ll be able to run more consistently, reach higher weekly mileage levels, do more challenging workouts—and ultimately, race a lot faster.

It’s instructive to look at the prevention habits of the world’s best runners. These are athletes often running 100-plus-mile training weeks, completing two training sessions per day, and pushing their bodies to the absolute limit.

What do these runners do differently to stay healthy? How do you prioritize health when you’re training at such a high level?

The lessons we can pull from the training of professional runners can help all of us train more intelligently and prevent future injuries.

Amelia Boone: World’s Toughest

Amelia Boone is a three-time champion of the World’s Toughest Mudder, a Spartan Race World Champion, and arguably the most dominant female obstacle course racer in history. She’s also a full-time attorney for Apple who usually beats 99 percent of men in every race she enters.

Boone focuses on two key areas to stay healthy: mobility and strength. I asked her about preventing injuries and her advice is powerful:

“For runners, single leg strength is everything—I work on single leg stability at least twice a week in the form of lunges, single leg squats, balance work with slant boards, Bosu balls, and other unstable surfaces.

“Dedicate 10 minutes each night before you go to bed to mobilize a particular body part. It doesn’t need to be the same one (and shouldn’t always be the same!), but focus on moving your tissues and loosening up before you go to bed.

“If you are desk bound like I am, do what you can to stay moving as much as possible. Take a lap around the office at least twice an hour. On conference calls, I like to sit in the bottom of a squat or hold a plank. Keep a golf ball at your desk and roll out the bottom of your feet during the day. The little movements add up.”

Boone focuses on daily mobility to stay loose and enhance the recovery process. She also focuses on being strong on each leg individually—an incredibly running-specific way of ensuring she’s strong in just the right way for a runner.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Be Healthier At Work Without Taking A Lunch Run Break

Ian Sharman: Going the Distance

Ian Sharman is a four-time winner of the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile race in the Rocky Mountains with an average altitude of over 10,000 feet. He also holds the record for the fastest time in a trail 100-mile race in the United States (12 hours and 44 minutes) and is frequently one of the top ultrarunners in the world.

Like Boone, Sharman focuses on strength and mobility to stay healthy as he competes in some of the most grueling races in the world. His advice:

“I advise a simple routine of dynamic stretches every day, even if you don’t run that day, to improve general strength, flexibility and stability. That includes leg swings, lunges and squats. Even when brushing your teeth balance on one leg to improve core strength and stability. The combination of these and regular foam rolling really help to reduce potential injuries and therefore improve your running.

“A large proportion of non-traumatic running injuries stem from muscle tightness leading to restricted biomechanics and alterations in running gait. Therefore, I advise foam rolling (which is more effective than a massage stick because you can utilize more body weight to apply pressure to the muscles) every day.

“Getting those muscle tissues and the fascia loosened up and able to move freely definitely prevents some easily avoidable injuries.”

So, what can we learn from Boone and Sharman’s advice?

  1. Strength training is critical. Weak muscles are more prone to injury and less resilient to the impact forces of running. Focus on fundamental strength exercises (no gym needed). If you’re not strength training, then you’re not training.
  2. Mobility work works. Mobility—or the ability to effectively move through a full range of motion—is paramount to health. Running causes scar tissue and muscle adhesions to form, which reduce your mobility and negatively impact your stride. Use a foam roller regularly, get a massage if you can, and prioritize those especially tight “trigger points” to stay loose and supple.

 

These strategies work for the best runners in the world and they should work for you, too!

RELATED: Injury-Proof Your Body With This 10-Minute Strength Routine

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About the Author:

Jason Fitzgerald is the head coach at Strength Running, one of the web’s largest coaching sites for runners. He is a 2:39 marathoner, USATF-certified coach and his passion is helping runners set monster personal bests. Follow him on Twitter @JasonFitz1 and Facebook.

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5 Injuries That You Shouldn’t Treat Yourself And Require A Doctor http://running.competitor.com/2017/09/injury-prevention/injuries-require-doctor_167942 Wed, 06 Sep 2017 23:18:54 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167942 It can be tempting to use self-care to treat your own injuries and get back to running quickly, however, it isn't always the best idea.

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When it comes to small annoyances and injuries, the goal is often to treat it as quickly as possible in order to not miss out on valuable training time. However, there are a few times that you should see a doctor versus attempting self-care and risking the chance of further injury.

“Many people successfully self-treat small injuries such as IT band syndrome, sprains, strains and plantar fasciitis and in most cases dynamic rest, ice, stretching, rolling and strengthening will do the trick,” shares Dr. Josh Emdur, co-founder of SteadyMD Running, the world’s first primary care practice, fully online, just for runners. “However, the danger is that ‘small injuries’ can turn into larger injuries that can ruin a training cycle if not cared for appropriately early on.”

Dr. Emdur adds that the first step is to partner with a physician that understands your sport and can help you best prepare for the stress it will put on your body. Then, if any of the following do arise, you have someone who knows your personal history and can advise you on proper treatment and care.

Blisters

It can be tempting to pop a blister at home, but letting a doctor care for any running blisters that arise is always the best choice. Also, according to Dr. Christopher Segler, an award-winning podiatrist and owner of Doc on the Run based in the San Francisco Bay area, not all blisters actually need to be popped. Though draining it relieves pressure, it can also let bacteria in.

“Sometimes treating a blister at home is fine, but there is always a possibility if you pop it that it will become infected,” notes Martha Pyron, MD, a sports medicine physician and owner of Medicine in Motion in Austin, Texas. “You should cover it with antibiotic ointment and bandage and see a doctor as soon as possible if you have worsening symptoms of pain, redness, discharge or heat in the area.”

RELATED: 8 Blister-Busting Items For Happy Feet

Toenail Pain and Pressure

The most common toenail injury runners have is black toenails, however, if you are experiencing pain and pressure, there may be a different problem at hand.

“Black toenails are a result of nail trauma usually from improperly fitting shoes. Most ‘black toenails’ don’t need to be drained,” explains Dr. Emdur. “In the case of a large subungal hematoma—or fluid collection under the nail—that is painful and tender to touch, I would recommend that it be drained by a medical professional due to risks of further injury to the nail bed and infection.”

This draining requires drilling a hole in the nail and similar to draining a blister, this lets bacteria into the area. In this case, a medical professional should always treat your nail.

Sprained Ankle

It has been found that a sprained ankle can lead to much greater risk of injury to the ankle down the road. When it comes to trying to treat a sprain yourself, it is important to note that if you don’t treat it properly there could be future problems. In order to know if you need to see a doctor, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, also of SteadyMD Running, recommends you follow the Ottawa Ankle Rules. If you do not pass that test, then you should schedule an appointment with your physician.

“The severity of the sprain can change the treatment,” adds Dr. Segler. “If you can’t assess the severity of the sprain, you might either under-treat or over-treat the injury.”

Leaving the treatment plan up to your doctor instead of just relying on ice and rest can help ensure you don’t miss out on any training time in the future due to an unresolved sprain.

Muscle Pain

Any aches or pains in your muscles follow the same protocol as a sprained ankle, where you want to be sure to visit a doctor to make sure you understand and treat the correct injury.

“A lot of runners have muscle pains that end up being chronic and ongoing, and if you have tried the typical stretch and massage options—even deep tissue work—but keep having the problem, you likely have another reason causing the problem,” explains Dr. Pyron. “See your doctor to figure out what that reason is so you can fix that underlying problem instead of just treating the muscle symptom you keep getting.”

RELATED: 6 Proven Methods For Reducing Aches And Pains

Mid-Foot Pain

Finally, if you are experiencing mid-foot pain, it is key to see a doctor versus simply choosing ice and rest. Because your feet are your main tool in running, taking extra precautions is always best.

“There is one injury a runner cannot afford to miss: Lisfranc’s fracture,” notes Dr. Segler. “This is pain in the mid-foot resulting from the tear of a very small ligament that stabilizes the entire mid-foot complex. These injuries are very difficult diagnose, and very easy to miss. This injury is often misdiagnosed as a ‘mid-foot sprain.'”

In the end, if you know something is wrong, err on the side of caution and see a doctor. Dr. Cucuzzella adds that if you are able to get in tune with your body and understand the right way to push yourself and recover, you can often avoid injury and know when something is serious enough to need a professional opinion.

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Is Taking An Ice Bath Worth The Torture? http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/injury-prevention/ice-bath-worth-torture_167603 Tue, 29 Aug 2017 17:11:28 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167603 Research on the benefits of ice baths are mixed. Is a post-run ice bath worth it for you?

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Runners who participate in this activity will tell you there is a definite way to “do” the ice bath. First, you stop at your local grocery store and buy a 10- to 20-pound bag of ice. Next, you go home, run cold water into your tub and get naked from the waist down. Then, you put on a down parka and grab a cup of hot coffee or a shot of whiskey.

Next comes the fun. You immerse your lower body into the cold water while yelling to your significant other to pour in the ice, a few handfuls at a time. Don’t be surprised if you yelp like a small child—this is normal. Lastly, you set your timer for 10 minutes and promise yourself you will not emerge from this torture chamber before then.

This all sounds pretty awful, and it is—especially after a long run done in freezing cold temperatures. Is it worth it, and if so, why? Here are the pros and cons of using an ice bath as part of your long run recovery.

Pros

  • The icy cold water can help to reduce inflammation in your legs.
  • Ice baths can decrease muscle soreness up to 20 percent.
  • The icy water helps to flush waste products and aids in tissue repair. “The theory is that the icy water causes the blood in tired legs to recede. When the legs warm up again they are filled with ‘new’ oxygenated blood which invigorates the muscles.” (Daily Mail, 2010)
  • The bath can simultaneously treat the entire lower body as opposed to using an ice pack, which only treats one small area.

Cons

  • It is a miserable experience.
  • Immersing in an ice bath—especially too quickly or when the water is lower than 59 degrees—can shock the body, raising blood pressure and heart rate.
  • The benefits of the ice bath are relatively inconclusive, so this torture may be for nothing.
  • If over-used, the ice bath could limit muscle strengthening.

 

In conclusion, there is nothing that says you have to take an ice bath. As with all things running, you need to find out what works for you. If the bath energizes you, aids in your recovery and makes you feel like a badass, go for it!

RELATED: Compression For Runners—Is It Worth It?

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Can You Run If You Have Bunions? http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/injury-prevention/bunions-runners-pain-advice_167259 Wed, 16 Aug 2017 19:12:03 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167259 At best bunions are an annoyance when finding the best running shoes. At worst, they are very painful.

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Any runner who has bunions knows it can be a major impediment to training. A bony growth that protrudes from the joint of the big toe, bunions can cause many issues. At best, they make finding the perfect running shoe a bit difficult. At worse, they can cause significant pain while running—or even just walking. There are a few steps runners with bunions can take to make sure their miles are pain-free.

Does running cause bunions?

The short answer—no. People without bunions will not suddenly develop them when they start a training program.

“It’s not that running causes bunions. If you have bunions to begin with, running can perpetuate that deformity,” says Dr. Richard T. Braver DPM, a sports podiatrist located in Fair Lawn, Riverdale and Englewood, NJ.

Many bunions are formed because people are genetically predisposed to them. People with a more sedentary lifestyle may never notice a foot issue or find pain in everyday activities. However, the force running places on the foot can bring about discomfort more quickly. Improperly fitting shoes and poor running form can exacerbate any issues.

A majority of runners with bunions also tend to pronate, meaning they roll inward every time their foot strikes the ground. Instead of pushing straight ahead, the big toe angles towards the adjacent 2nd toe, causing stretching and pain to the bunion joint.

RELATED: The 5 Most Troublesome Running Injuries

Treatment Options For Runners With Bunions

“The most common complaint we hear is pain at the side of the bunion where it’s really very prominent, the side which is bulbous, tends to rub on the shoe and it causes pain, ” says Dr. Braver

Addressing the fit of a shoe is often the first conservative approach for runners. Dr. Braver suggests creating a small opening on the side of their running shoe where the bunion protrudes. Put the shoe on, feel the area where the bone is most prominent, mark it with a pen, and then cut a small X in the center. This allows the big toe to have more room to move while running.

The big toe isn’t the only part of the foot that can experience irritation. Many runners also don’t realize that bunions can shift the bone of the big toe inward, causing pain in other areas of the foot.

“The second metatarsal underneath the ball of the foot may also hurt when they push off,” says Dr. Braver “And that’s because when a bunion gets out of position, it’s not taking its fair share of weight. What happens is that weight is then transferred to the next bone.”

Runners with more moderate foot pain often turn to orthotics. Getting fitted for an orthotic relieves pressure on other parts of the foot and helps restore correct running form. While it won’t heal a bunion, it can help prevent it from getting worse.

When a bunion becomes severe, the answer is typically surgery. It’s important for runners to find a sports podiatrist who has familiarly in treating athletes. The surgical procedures of sports podiatrists can vary from traditional methods, with an emphasis on minimizing scar tissue and allowing for a greater range of motion. Runners should expect to miss anywhere from 8-12 weeks of running. Even then, the build up to a normal training plan takes a while. Dr. Braver suggests alternative low impact exercises to his patients during the recovery period to keep them cardiovascularly fit. This may seem like a long time to be off your feet. However it is a much better option that experiencing severe discomfort while running.

“People get to that point when they say ‘I’m not going to cut every pair of shoes I have. It hurts when I’m running. It hurts when I’m walking. The bunion throbs.’ Then we say you don’t have to live with this pain. We can fix it,” says Dr. Braver.

Advice To New Runners With Bunions

All runners who are starting a training program begin at the same place—a specialty running store. Getting fitted for the proper shoe is very important, especially since so many runners with bunions pronate. A supportive shoe in the proper size will help to minimize any pain. A bunion may require a shoe in a wider width (2E or 4E), which most running specialty stores can quickly order if they don’t have it in stock.

Dr. Braver also recommends that new runners visit a sports podiatrist if they begin a training program and experience foot pain.

“More than likely they will need orthotics to stop the bunion from getting worse and worse. The orthotic can’t fix the bunion like surgery can, but it can slow down the progression.”

This should not discourage anyone with bunions from trying to start a running program. Just be aware of your body, increase mileage slowly and take action at the first sign of pain.

RELATED: New Runners—Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

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This New Online Primary Care Service Focuses On Runner’s Health http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/injury-prevention/online-primary-care-service-runners_167255 Wed, 16 Aug 2017 18:40:06 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167255 Runners are turning to SteadyMD, an online primary care service, that provides a personal physician in tune to the needs of active people.

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At the end of June, suffering from a sore Achilles, 31-year-old Stephanie Jones sought out advice from a primary care physician. He recommended she take a few weeks off. Jones questioned him about treatment while she rested, wondering about foam rolling and other techniques to speed recovery. But the physician dismissed her inquiries and ignored her knowledge of potential approaches, leaving her frustrated.

Jones’ experience was not unlike that of many other runners, who often lament the fact that there aren’t many physicians who “get” them and their specific needs.

Like Jones, Adam St. Pierre, a 35-year-old endurance coach from Boulder, Colo., has also experienced frustration from the healthcare system, although for different reasons. “Living in Boulder, we have a good network of physicians who understand runners,” he says. “But getting an appointment quickly isn’t easy, so you end up waiting to address the issue.”

St. Pierre, however, has found a modern-day solution to the problem, a recently launched online primary care system called SteadyMD. The best part, he says, is that among the areas of care is one designed just for runners.

The new primary care service, which is just beginning to onboard running patients, is the brainchild of Yarone Goren, COO, and Guy Friedman, CEO. The two launched the site last winter as a boutique service that allows patients to develop long-term, preventative care relationships with physicians who understand their particular needs. Niche platforms include fitness and lifting, functional fitness, strength training and power lifting, LGBTQ, and most recently, running. Triathlon is lined up for the near future.

Leading the running vertical for SteadyMD is Mark Cucuzzella, a family physician and professor at West Viriginia School of Medicine, an elite marathoner, and director of the Natural Running Center. “Mark will serve as a consultant to the site,” says Goren. “Our treating physician is Josh Emdur, a family physician and sub-three-hour marathoner. Both of the doctors understand runners, their lifestyles, goals and needs.”

RELATED: Should I See A Doctor About My Running Injury?

St. Pierre wasn’t suffering from a potential injury when he first connected with SteadyMD, but rather, wanted to establish a baseline of health and consolidate all his medical details in one place. “It was time for me to get all of my basic tests, referrals and information in one place,” he says. “And since I’m a runner, it’s probably a given that I will need a physician in the future, so it’s nice to work with someone who understands the sport.”

In particular, St. Pierre likes the idea that if he does have something amiss, Emdur is less likely to simply say “don’t run” than another physician who isn’t tuned in to the sport. “That’s never what a runner wants to hear,” he says. “I want someone who is going to look at various treatments other than rest.”

The SteadyMD experience begins with an initial, two-way video chat. Patients spend about an hour with their new primary care physician, discussing medical history, family history, diet, exercise and any other pertinent topics. Together, patient and physician can connect through apps and devices so that the physician can see feedback like heart rate, blood sugar, workouts and more. Membership costs $79 per month and requires a 12-month membership. Once in the system, patients can access physicians via text, phone-call appointments, and video chats.

“We keep the number of patients limited so that the physicians can offer them dedicated attention and easy accessibility,” says Goren.

Of course, there will be times when patients will need to see a physician in the flesh. “We look at this as more of a preventative service,” says Goren, “but when a patient needs to see someone in person, we will have a network of local physicians, PTs and the like where we can send them.”

As a coach who works with many of his clients remotely, St. Pierre appreciates and understands this approach. “There are many parallels here, especially with the need for a high-level, back-and-forth commitment,” he says. “So far, it has worked well for me and has been very simple and intuitive. I think it’s a useful model.”

RELATED: 7 Injury Prevention Strategies For Pain-Free Running

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Combat Injury With This Resistance Band Workout http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/injury-prevention/resistance-band-workout_167162 Mon, 14 Aug 2017 23:28:25 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=167162 A resistance band workout can allow you to better target certain muscle groups above and beyond what you could do with free weights.

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Resistance bands are among the easiest and cheapest ways to get in a strength workout. Not only is the elastic tubing inexpensive, it’s easy to throw in your car or pack when you travel and can be used just about anywhere.

What’s more, research has shown that resistance band workouts are comparable to traditional weight training in terms of both boosting muscle strength and zapping body fat. In fact, they can allow you to better target certain muscle groups above and beyond what you could do with free weights. This comes in handy for not only improving strength, but also addressing injury rehab and prevention.

RELATED: How To Lateral Squat Walk With A Resistance Band

This workout is tailor-made for runners who are looking to improve muscle- and connective-tissue strength and combat injury.

Use a flat and thin band: Ankle Dorsiflexion Hip Adduction Lateral Band Walk resistance band workout Standing Chest Press Seated Row Lat Pulldown

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4 Tools That Are An Injured Runner’s Best Friends http://running.competitor.com/2017/08/injury-prevention/4-tools-injured-runners-best-friends_166903 Mon, 07 Aug 2017 18:28:13 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=166903 When running injuries threaten your next race, try using these physical therapist-approved tools to fight back and stay on track.

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Physical therapist Michael Conlon, owner of Finish Line Physical Therapy in New York City, recommends these tools to lend a keep-yourself-fit hand.

RELATED: Here’s How You Can Stay Fit When You Are Injured

AlterG: Elliptical: Biking: Deep-Water Running Belt:

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Why You Should Stretch After Your Run And Not Before http://running.competitor.com/2017/06/injury-prevention/stretch-running_161243 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 03:44:39 +0000 http://runhaven.lan/?p=15251 Find out how thoughts on when to stretching have changed and why it is better after a run.

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Static stretching used to be the prescription for every exercise class in every grade. However it’s been shown that stretching muscles before running without dynamic movement is not a great thing. Here’s why you should refrain from performing static stretches before running.

Why you should not static stretch before running

You’re not warmed up yet.
Cold muscles are tight muscles. Warming up your muscles first means you’ll be better able to complete any stretch.

You’re likely to pull a muscle.
Runners are more likely to get a strain in tight, cold muscles, especially if you go too far into a stretch. That’s because cold muscles are more likely to be torn or pulled.

You’ll run slower.
Studies have shown that those who use static stretching before a hard workout are more likely to perform at a lesser level than those who don’t stretch before.

RELATED: Dynamic Stretching Versus Static Stretching

Why you should static stretch after running

You’ll improve your range of motion.
Stretching after you run will help with flexibility. Warm muscles are more pliable, and you’ll find you can reach further than when your muscles are cold. However, be careful that you don’t overstretch.

It will feel great.
Stretching out your hamstrings, quads and hips after a long run can feel amazing. You will immediately feel a sense of relief and get that “ahhh” moment.

RELATED: Dynamic Warmups To Make You Stronger And Faster

If you want to warm up before you run, consider walking for 5-10 minutes. Better yet, perform dynamic stretching exercises, which involve movements that better help prepare your joints and muscles for your upcoming workout. Examples of dynamic stretches include leg swings, lunges, high kicks, knee to chest, butt kicks and more. You can also use a foam roller before you hit the pavement.

There’s still controversy about whether runners need to stretch at all—before or after a run. So do your research and do what feels right to you.

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How Runners Can Combat Spring Allergies http://running.competitor.com/2017/04/health/combat-spring-allergies_163994 Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:28:12 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=163994 If high pollen counts and spring allergies are making your runs miserable, we have a solution. Try these steps to combat allergens.

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It’s that time of year. The pollen from the trees in front of my house is so thick it leaves layers on top of cars. My eyes start to water. I’m sneezing constantly, and running sounds miserable. Yes, it’s allergy season.

“[Allergies] can cause impairment equal to two cocktails or taking a sedative,” says Dr. Leo Galland, co-author with Jonathan Galland of The Allergy Solution. While the effects of allergies on athletic performance have not been extensively studied, allergies have been shown to impact breathing ability, and decrease mental function and focus.

“The number one symptom is fatigue,” says Denise Wood, owner of Advanced Allergy Solutions, a holistic allergy clinic that provides unique anti-allergy treatments. Allergy sufferers are typically physically and emotionally irritated too. “It’s kind of like being sick, but it’s all the time.”

You wouldn’t necessarily run if you were sick, so is it safe to run if you have bad allergies? And even if it is safe, how can you make running through the symptoms more pleasant? Try these tips to keep moving even as the pollen falls.

Is it safe?

Allergies can increase the risk of exercise-induced asthma, even if you generally don’t have breathing issues when the air is fine. An asthma attack can be dangerous. “It wouldn’t be safe if it’s inducing asthma,” Wood advises.

With that exception, you can also use the same general rules as deciding to exercise while sick: Don’t do it if you have a fever or bad symptoms below the neck.

Allergies can also affect your sleep. If tired, decide whether running or rest would be best for you. But if it’s just sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose, then there is no a reason not to run—except for the discomfort.

RELATED: Should You Run When You’re Sick?

Tips for dealing with allergies

Allergy meds: Prescription inhalers, antihistamines and decongestants can obviously help. It is ideal to take those meds an hour or two before running. Many allergy medications can also cause fatigue, so doctors typically recommend a non-drowsy version if you intend to perform physical activity.

Over-the-counter nasal sprays, like Flonase, and eye drops can help relieve symptoms. Many are more effective before you experience symptoms rather than after.

However, if you’re planning to compete, a number of common drugs, like Sudafed, include the banned substance pseudoephedrine. Check the ingredients on your medications and the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned drug list.

Natural remedies: Wood recommends natural anti-histamines available at health food stores, like Vitamin A, quercetin, and even nettles.

Dr. Galland suggests that taking 600 to 900mg of N-acetylcysteine, two to four times daily, can help prevent allergy symptoms. Lactobacillus probiotics can also improve your immune system function and lessen the symptoms of nasal allergies. He also notes that fish oils have a preventative effect against asthma. However none of these are going to relieve acute symptoms.

“Those aren’t quick fixes,” says Dr. Galland, but rather supplements that need to be taken regularly for their preventative effects.

You can also try wearing a handkerchief or mask over your face. Though it can be uncomfortable when running, it does help. Wood also advises that a nap may also stop the allergy response. Others find relief from acupuncture.

RELATED: 6 Ways Acupuncture Can Help Runners

Pick your exercise times: If you know what you’re allergic to, you can plan workouts to avoid any time of day when pollen counts are high. “But most people don’t know what they’re allergic to,” Wood says. They simply know what time of year they generally have problems. You can get an allergy skin test to find out which allergens affect you.

Online pollen trackers, like the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology’s or airnow.gov, can be useful for establishing patterns—though Wood cautions many online pollen trackers rarely give live data.

Pollen counts do tend to be highest from 8 a.m. to noon, peaking around 10 a.m., according to Dr. Galland. Allergens can also be worse when windy. Rain tends to tamp down some of the irritants, but mold can be highly problematic after rainstorms.

Shower and clean: Because it sticks to your clothes and skin, “you carry pollen in with you,” Dr. Galland says. It can be helpful to keep a clean house and launder clothes to avoid sitting in allergens. Flushing out your nasal cavities can also get rid of the irritants.

Even if you exercise indoors to avoid outdoor allergens, you may need to shower first, wash your hair, and change clothes to remove the pollen or spores brought in.

Other issues to consider

“I found running actually relieved the symptoms of hay fever,” Dr. Galland says. Ideally, he would take a cold shower, then go for a run, sometimes even late at night, to decrease allergic reactions and hormone response in the body.

Dr. Galland also notes that there is evidence that certain foods can cross-react with certain allergies. Raw apples, nuts, carrots, celery, and large-pit fruits can affect birch pollen allergies. Ragweed or grass allergies can react to melons, bananas, and citrus fruits. Try different foods to figure out if your allergies are exacerbated by a certain diet.

Sugar, including in alcohol, generally has an inflammatory effect and should be avoided a well.

Some studies have also found that air quality and auto emission pollution can make allergies worse. If that’s an issue, then Vitamin C can have a detoxifying effect and broccoli sprouts can help block the effects of auto exhaust. Plus, when deciding where to run, “choose a beach over a highway (if possible in your area),” Galland adds.

Wood also advises to avoid stress. Of course this is easier said than done, but stress, a lack of sleep, and overall poor health can make allergies worse. Extremely upsetting events can also trigger allergies that you might not have had before. “Then they tend to just get worse and worse,” says Wood, unless measures are taken.

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How to Recover From The Boston Marathon in 3 Easy Steps http://running.competitor.com/2017/04/boston-marathon/recover-boston-3-steps_163656 Tue, 18 Apr 2017 22:23:41 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=163656 Running a marathon is challenging. Figuring out how to recover post-race doesn't have to be, especially if you follow this guide.

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Photo: PhotoRun.net

There’s no doubt that running a marathon is challenging. It’s so difficult that even the post-race recovery is complex!

Marathon recovery is substantial for several reasons. After a marathon:

  • Inflammation and cell damage are common and persist for up to two weeks.
  • The immune system is suppressed, making it far easier to get sick.
  • Even the heart can be slightly damaged (it’s a muscle, after all).
  • Muscle memory is compromised, making fast running difficult and riskier for overuse injuries like IT Band Syndrome.

No matter what marathon you run, there’s significant trauma and muscular damage to recover from after the race.

But the Boston Marathon is a unique event that makes recovery more difficult. The very nature of the course itself requires a more structured approach.

It’s hillier, meaning you’re going to spend more time running downhill. The course itself is also a net downhill course, finishing at a lower elevation than it started.

All that downhill running requires a lot of eccentric muscle contractions where your muscles are both under load and lengthening at the same time.

The result? Muscular micro-trauma, soreness and a really hard time putting on your pants the day after Marathon Monday.

To help you get those pants on, here are some of the most effective ways to recover from the Boston Marathon.

Strategy #1: Re-Fuel ASAP

The body is in a carb-depleted state at the end of 26.2 miles, no matter how well you fueled during the race with gels, blocks, or powders.

The first goal is to replenish your carbohydrate and fluid stores. Don’t worry about over-eating—now is not the time for that!). Eat the bagel, banana, or energy bar that’s available at the finish line and cherish that sports drink.

After that post-race snack, aim to eat a big meal within 1 to 2 hours, if your stomach can handle it. While a healthy meal is ideal, you can take some liberties with your diet. If not after a marathon, then when?

Finally, continue to eat well and drink a lot of fluids for the rest of the day. Your urine should be pale yellow or clear and you shouldn’t let yourself get hungry.

RELATED: Eat And Drink Away Sore Muscles

Strategy #2: Manage the Damage

There’s no avoiding the muscle damage that a hilly marathon like Boston inflicts on your legs, so it’s best to do everything possible to recover quickly.

And while some soreness is encouraged during training, a stricter recovery protocol after a marathon is a smart idea. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Don’t sit or lay down after the race; keep walking for at least 10-15 minutes.
  • If possible, take an ice bath for 10-15 minutes before your shower.
  • Wear graduated compression sleeves to promote extra blood flow for the rest of the day.
  • Avoid getting a massage or stretching during the 24-36 hours after Boston. Muscles are not “tight”—they’re damaged.
  • Take a 90-minute nap if possible.
  • If you’re really sore, consider ibuprofen.

This simple checklist ensures you’re promoting healing blood flow, not exacerbating any additional damage and putting yourself in the best possible position to recover as quickly as possible.

RELATED: The 10 Commandments Of Injury Prevention

Strategy #3: Sleep Hard

You trained hard. You raced hard. Now it’s time to sleep hard.

There’s no doubt that sleep is the top recovery tool at your disposal. This is when your body does its most restorative work, not only to your muscles, but also your endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems.

The body recovers most during the delta wave and REM sleep cycles. This is why I recommend a 90-minute nap, which allows for a full sleep cycle.

For a few nights after the Boston Marathon, try to get an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep every night. This extra time will help the body rebuild and recover from the difficulties of racing 26.2 miles.

It’s also worth noting that alcohol inhibits restful sleep. If you’re going to celebrate with a few adult beverages—no judgment here!—it’s best to choose a rich beer or glass of red wine because of their nutrient content.

And of course, limit yourself to 1-2 drinks if possible. With more alcohol, you risk further dehydrating yourself and preventing your body from entering the most restorative phases of sleep.

Racing a marathon is hard. There’s no reason to make it more difficult by hampering recovery by under-fueling, not sleeping enough or making the trauma of 26.2 miles worse.

Take recovery seriously and your post-marathon running will thank you. You might also be back at Boston next year, ready to duel with the Newton Hills once more.

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Wise Tips From Masters Runners On Staying Fit and Injury-Free http://running.competitor.com/2017/02/injury-prevention/wise-tips-from-master-runners-on-staying-fit-and-injury-free_162316 Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:52:54 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=162316 Successful masters runners give insight into maintaining one's fitness and staying injury-free past the age of 40.

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At 42, elite runner Mike Wardian has achieved multiple records, including running the world's fastest marathon in an Elvis costume at the 2016 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon (pictured here). Photo: Brian Metzler

Matt Mace, 56, has been on a running streak since 1985. He typically logs about 2,500 miles per year and has kept that volume going for at least a decade. He races as much as 20 times each year, including ultras, all without injury—making him something of a masters marvel, if not the envy of runners of all ages.

Jennifer Harrison, 46, a triathlon coach from the Chicago suburbs, can also point to a long streak of healthy running. Other than a short break for an Achilles injury in 2011, and bed rest during pregnancy, Harrison has been running without a break since middle school.

And then there’s elite distance-running phenom Mike Wardian, the 42-year-old from West Virginia, who recently rocked the World Marathon Challenge which consists of running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Aside from a bout of injury in 2012, Wardian has been crushing records and miles since 1995.

What’s the secret sauce that these masters have stumbled upon? More importantly, how can the rest of the running world take a page from their books?

The answers, as you might expect, are as individual as the runners themselves. But there are some common denominators from which everyone can benefit.

RELATED: Do’s and Don’ts for Masters Runners

Be Mindful

The response is familiar: listen to your body. Every runner knows it, but not every runner follows it. Mace, Harrison and Wardian, however, live it. “If something doesn’t feel right, I back off,” Wardian says. “I don’t care if the schedule calls for 80 miles that week. If I need to cut back to 60, I cut back to 60.”

Mace concurs. “I’m really good at being cautious if I need to be,” he says. “If something hurts, I scale back.”

Clearly it’s an approach that’s working and one that many coaches will preach. By taking a couple of days off as soon as pain shows up, runners can usually avoid taking weeks off when pushing through.

Be Realistic

Another tactic that these masters runners use is knowing their limits and respecting them. Mace says that he recognizes he’s not going to run as fast as he did 20 years ago and doesn’t try to push it. “Look, I’m not going to be dropping time off my PRs at this point,” he says. “So it’s not worth making big bumps in mileage and asking for an injury.”

Mace is also a fan of knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are with running, and then playing into them. “I’m never going to be a miler, so I don’t train to that,” he says. “I also knew early on that my threshold was 80 to 90 miles per week, not 100 or 110, so I keep that limit on myself.”

Harrison is a proponent of this approach as well. “I’ve come to peace with the fact that I’m not as fast as I used to be and I don’t try to compete with my former times,” she says. “I’ve reestablished my goals and plans for speedwork and racing.”

As a triathlete, Harrison has been able to focus on age-group awards as opposed to time goals, and she says this has been helpful to her. “In the running community, everyone is chasing PRs,” she says. “I have learned to let my ego and the clock go, and focus instead on being competitive with something other than the clock.”

Be Consistent

Consistency in training is a tenant most runners live by, and it definitely applies to these masters. When it comes to injury-free longevity, its consistency not only with regular running, but also with the approach to what works that counts. Wardian and Mace say they both train fairly similarly now as when they were younger and don’t let concerns with aging creep into their psyches. “Don’t let age dictate what you’re doing,” Wardian advises. “Let your body tell you what you’re capable of doing.”

Mace says he really hasn’t changed all that much since becoming a masters runner. In other words, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. “It’s not like I turned 40 and decided I had to do things differently,” he says. “I train pretty similarly now to how I always have.”

Wardian says that the one thing he has changed is running fewer miles than he used to, although his mileage still remains high. “I’ve realized that I can get by on so much less,” he says. “It’s not easy for me because I love running so much, but consistency is more important than the number of miles.”

Be A Cross-Trainer

All three of the masters runners spend time on activities other than running, and all three say that’s important. Mace, who has completed several Ironman distance races, says that swimming has been good for him. “I don’t really enjoy it,” he admits, “but I do think it helps.”

As a triathlete, Harrison also incorporates swimming and cycling into her routine and is a big believer in strength training as well. Pilates, core work and the like are all part of her regular routine. “In my 30s, I could get away without all the little things,” she says. “But now they add up.”

Even Wardian finds time for riding his bike, commuting to and from work daily. “I mix in a lot more cycling now than I used to, and I think that’s good for me,” he says.

Clearly it’s working—after a 200-mile week for the World Marathon Challenge, Wardian says he feels fantastic. “My legs feel really fresh,” he says. “I’m excited about being so fit.”

RELATED: 7 Injury Prevention Strategies for Pain-Free Running

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6 Ways Acupuncture Can Benefit Runners http://running.competitor.com/2017/02/injury-prevention/6-ways-acupuncture-can-benefit-runners_162179 Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:50:08 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=162179 This centuries-old therapy can help you perform your best. Here's what you need to know before signing up for acupuncture.

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Sarah Hammer, L.Ac., a marathoner and licensed acupuncturist. Photo: Vev Studios

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves inserting fine needles into the skin at certain points called acupoints, which, when stimulated, are thought to promote the body’s natural healing processes. Used by more than 3 million Americans each year, this ancient healing art has specific benefits for runners.

Sarah Hammer, L.Ac., a marathoner and acupuncturist in Portland, Ore., says that while most of her runner-patients initially seek treatment for pain or an injury, they often notice, as she did, that acupuncture also improves their overall health—which translates to stronger running. That’s because regardless of the specific ailment, acupuncture seeks to balance and restore energy throughout the body, she explains.

Here are six ways this centuries-old therapy can help you perform your best.

RELATED: Alternative Treatments for Running Injuries

Strengthens Your Immune System

Research shows that during periods of heavy training, your risk of acquiring an upper respiratory tract infection increases. According to the National Cancer Institute, acupuncture may help your body fight off infections by enhancing white blood cell activity. Several acupoints are associated with regulating immunity, but the key is to get treatments before you get sick, such as every two weeks during marathon training, Hammer says.

Corrects Muscle Imbalances

When muscles are imbalanced, they can trigger a chain reaction resulting in muscle, joint and tendon pain, says Matt Callison, L.Ac., a San Diego-based acupuncturist who trademarked Sports Medicine Acupuncture. To correct these imbalances, he inserts needles into motor points as well as specific acupuncture points to release tight segments of myofascial tissues—the membranes that surround and connect your muscles. “When you balance the muscles, you decrease the stress on irritated areas,” Callison says.

Accelerates Healing And Recovery

Clinical studies have amply documented that acupuncture improves blood circulation. “Because of the healing and growth factors in the blood, anything you can do to increase the amount of blood flow to an injured area, the better off it is,” Callison says. Acupuncture is especially helpful for healing tendons and ligaments, he says, which have been shown to have 7 percent less blood flow than muscles.

Protects Against Chronic Stress

Chronic stress undermines performance and wreaks havoc on our health. Recently, a team of Georgetown University researchers showed that acupuncture provides some resilience against chronic stress. In a series of animal studies, they found that acupuncture not only suppressed stress-related hormonal changes, but that the treatment’s effects lasted for four days. “Four days is quite long if you think of the effects of drugs, for example,” Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, who led the study, says. “Most drugs only last hours, not days.”

Improves Sleep

Recent clinical studies show that acupuncture promotes quality sleep, which runners know is critical to running strong, recovering well and preventing illness. Unfortunately, the CDC reports that nearly 10 percent of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. “The reasons for poor sleep are different for every person, which is why acupuncture is so effective in treating it,” Hammer explains. “Unlike taking a pill, it gets to the root causes.”

It’s Mobile

Acupuncture pop-up clinics are part of a growing trend that brings the service to you. “Acupuncture can essentially be done anywhere,” says Hammer, who has treated runners during Hood to Coast, one of the world’s largest and longest relay races. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see more pop-up acu-clinics, like we see chair massages, at the end of races to enhance recovery.”

RELATED: 6 Proven Methods for Reducing Aches and Pains

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Air Force Vet Treating Plantar Fasciitis One Pair of Flip Flops at a Time http://running.competitor.com/2016/11/news/treating-plantar-fasciitis-one-flip-flop-at-a-time_158643 Fri, 11 Nov 2016 12:30:51 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=158643 Dr. Meredith Warner, an orthopedic surgeon in the Air Force, has designed flip flops to help treat and beat plantar fasciitis.

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Air Force veteran Dr. Meredith Warner has used experience serving in Afghanistan to develop footwear aimed at healing plantar fasciitis.

During her time in the Air Force, Dr. Meredith Warner, an orthopedic surgeon, became frustrated with the gap in treatment for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, something she says is very common in the military.

According to Warner, total immobilization isn’t practical, injections and pain pills aren’t long-term solutions and she isn’t a fan of resorting to surgery for it. Physical therapy is her go-to modality, but it can prove cost prohibitive as soldiers transfer to civilian life. What she really wanted was a way for people to recover before becoming injured.

Now she’s putting her experience and expertise together in footwear products in an entrepreneurial venture called The Healing Sole.

“Plantar fasciitis pretty much affects everyone once you’re no longer a child,” says the 43-year old recreational runner who founded Warner Orthopedics and Wellness in Baton Rouge, La., in 2013. “The guys in infantry are carrying at least 80 pounds of battle rattle, like a flak vest, helmet, goggles and more, while they’re rucking, and they are doing so in footwear that isn’t necessarily awesome.”

RELATED: The Truth About Plantar Fasciitis

Warner saw soldiers being sent home because the severe pain from plantar fasciitis kept them from being able to do their job. And she saw others who wanted to do nothing but wear flip flops when whey weren’t wearing military boots, something their doctors advised them not to do. Towards the end of her deployment, she decided the best way to address the care gap was by turning one of the problems, flip flops, into the solution.

After retiring from the military, Warner earned her MBA from Louisiana State University, which is where she met Natalie Noel, who is now her business partner in The Healing Sole. So far, the company has been self-funded with Warner and Noel working more than six years from concept to delivery. They even did their own proof of concept study.

“Scientifically and in my head, I assumed the concept would work because it’s based on scientific principles and a lot of theories I use every day in treatment,” says Warner, who sees The Healing Sole as a way to impact more people and empower others to take care of pain, problems and recovery on their own. “You don’t really know until you know. The clinical trial proved to myself and the world that the design worked.”

Warner, a self-described “army brat” grew up playing soccer, averaging 8 miles of running per game. She also played for two years at the University of Delaware. Running became more of a focus once she was in the military.

“I was stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and they had a fence called ‘the perimeter.’ If you ran the whole thing it was 15 or 16 miles,” she says. “There was nothing to do except operate and workout, so we would run that a lot.”

RELATED: Team RWB Grows With Trail Running Camp for Veterans

Warner has since run a couple half marathons and is training for her first marathon, the Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge in January. She credits weight lifting and now yoga for keeping her injury-free.

The combination of her athleticism and medical training led to the unique design features in The Healing Sole Flip Flops ($124), which are directed at runners as the primary group of potential customers. A rockered bottom eliminates a lot of the need for muscle contraction and joint movement, allowing the foot to rest. Firm foam and a metatarsal bar provide structure, there’s a compression zone at the insertion point of the plantar fascia for a more normal heel strike and the ramp under the big toe keeps toes from “clawing” as they do in most flip flops.

Like most working moms, Warner, who has a daughter with another on the way, says it’s a “time crunch” between family, training, surgery and clinic hours. The transition from military to civilian life was a challenge as well.

“During my four years of active duty, if you wanted to go on a lunch run or leave early to workout, no one blinked because it’s part of the job,” Warner says. “But when you get in the private world, it’s totally different. It’s much harder to stay fit in a culture that doesn’t value it.”

Warner’s training incorporates quality over quantity, with at least one yoga session per week, weights and plenty of recovery time between hard run efforts.

“It’s important to me to stay strong, and not to ‘just’ run,” says Warner who promotes the same for her patients. “You can’t do just one thing because then you build up one group of muscles, and ultimately, that’s not the way the human body is designed.”

Strength, flexibility and recovery are so important to Warner that she’s in the process of building a new clinic including workout facilities and a yoga studio.

Warner, who jokes that work takes up about 90 percent of her time, says tackling Spain’s San Sebastian Trail is at the top of her “one day” bucket list. Until then, she’ll keep helping patients heal themselves, one pair of flip flops at a time.

RELATED: Veteran Mike Sheey Runs Ultras to Raise Money for Charities

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How to Reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness After a Big Race http://running.competitor.com/2016/11/sponsored/reduce-doms-big-race_158709 Tue, 08 Nov 2016 21:42:23 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=158709 Follow these helpful tips for preventing delayed onset muscle soreness, which is your body’s reaction to overexertion.

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Training for a race can be exhausting and painful. When you put your body through intense workouts each day, it is going to respond with soreness and fatigue. This is true for both experienced and new runners.

Have you ever completed a long run and felt great all day, only to wake up the next morning stiff and sore? You are probably experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS is your body’s reaction to overexertion, and it causes tight, painful muscle movements that makes even the thought of exercise seem impossible.

Follow these tips to help reduce DOMS and stick to your routine!

Listen to Your Body

If you are going to demand an entire race (whether it’s a marathon, half marathon, 10K, or quick 2-mile jog) from your body, your body will make demands of its own.

Listen to your body. Don’t ignore pain, don’t ignore fatigue, and don’t ignore dehydration. If you do, your body won’t perform the way you want or need it to.

Warm Up

Take the time to warm up properly. Try to get a good dynamic stretch. Dynamic stretches stretch muscles by improving immediate range of motion—unlike static stretches (like the butterfly stretch) that prohibit immediate flexibility. Most dynamic stretches require a partner for assistance, as force needs to be applied.

If you want to achieve a dynamic stretch but don’t have a partner to offer assistance, try a stretching tool like the TheraBand Stretch Strap. Research shows that the Stretch Strap is as effective at increasing range of motion and improving flexibility as traditional partner stretching.

Warming topical analgesics are also great for warming up and preparing muscles for a long run. Topicals like Perform Atomic Heat are great for relieving any pain or soreness you may have, so you can exercise without the distraction.

Once you’re sure you’re warm, you can exercise comfortably knowing your muscles have received the proper attention they need.

Recovery

Typical recovery articles talk about using ice to reduce any swelling and inflammation you may have after a run.

Perform Cooling Gel is like the girlfriend ice brings to a family reunion that everyone ends up liking more than ice.

Just like ice, Perform works to cool the skin and reduce pain. But it does this without making you lug an ice bag around the house, and it lasts up to four hours. Apply to any painful area, and you can forget about the pain and focus on your training.

Feet feeling especially sore after a run? Try the Perform Foot Roller Kit, which includes Perform Pain Reliever and a TheraBand Foot Roller, to give your feet a cooling and relaxing massage. The best part? You can freeze the Foot Roller for an even greater cooling sensation.

Rest, Rest, Rest

Don’t burn yourself out by going to bed late, waking up at 4 a.m. and training your heart out every day. You need rest to encourage muscle recovery and allow your body to repair itself. And who doesn’t love sleep?!

Don’t underestimate the importance of proper warm up and recovery practices. If you don’t focus on what you do before and after exercise, you might not be able to enjoy your run. Follow these tips to make sure your next race is a success, and remember to listen to your body!

Rock, Roll, Run and WIN

Perform Pain Reliever wishes good luck to all GEICO Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas participants as well as all those running a fall or winter marathon!

Remember: Pace yourself, have fun, PERFORM and recover!

If you plan to attend Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, stop by the Perform Pain Reliever expo booth #150 to meet our team and learn additional details about how you can win a FREE race entry and FREE Perform Pain Reliever products.

Here’s how to enter:

1. Like us on Facebook @PerformPainRelief

2. Post a picture of the race festivities to our page

You’ll be entered for a chance to win one of two prize packages, which include a year’s supply of Perform Pain Reliever and Atomic Heat and FREE entry into any 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon race!

Best of luck in your running!

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7 Injury Prevention Strategies for Pain-Free Running http://running.competitor.com/2016/10/injury-prevention/7-injury-prevention-strategies-pain-free-running_157905 Wed, 26 Oct 2016 23:27:01 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=157905 It's easy to get injured from running if you're not following these seven basic injury prevention strategies.

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Photo: Shutterstock.com

Running is a full-contact sport—every stride inevitably leads to a brutally forceful impact with the ground. Not surprisingly, runners get injured at fairly high rates. In fact, multiple surveys have revealed that it’s much less common for a given runner to enjoy an injury-free year than it is to experience at least one ding that requires time off from training.

Sure, there are many great options for cross training that runners can utilize—but if we wanted to be swimmers, Nordic skiers or cyclists we’d switch to those sports and spare ourselves all the pounding that running inflicts.

So, how can you join the ranks of the minority of runners that escape injuries for extended periods of time? Here are seven effective strategies to help keep you off the couch.

1. Stop overstriding

When your footsteps consistently land in front of your center of mass you’re in danger of overstriding. This leads to increased forces on your legs that can even carry through the chain of muscle and bone that leads to your upper body. The best way to figure out if overstriding is an issue is to work with a professional running coach, but you can also get to work on cleaning up your stride with a few do-it-yourself remedies.

RELATED: The Dangers of Overstriding—and How to Stop It

2. Commit to a warmup

Most of us advise newer runners to perform a good warmup before a run or race—but too often it’s a “Do as I say, not as I do” proposition. Even a short warmup, perhaps a few leg swings and some lunges, is far better than none at all. Once you get into the habit of it you’ll notice how strange it feels to begin a run without preparing your muscles first.

RELATED: The Best Way to Warm Up

3. Run on a variety of surfaces

Surprisingly, the advice here is not to run exclusively on soft surfaces like dirt and grass. While those are great for reducing impact on your feet, research shows that the body adjusts to the impacts of different surfaces, so alternating between harder and softer terrain may do more to keep your running, and your legs, fresh.

RELATED: How Running Surfaces and Speed Influences Your Risk of Injury

4. Increase weekly miles strategically

The best single predictor of running performance is weekly mileage—study after study indicates that faster runners tend to run more miles. But how do you reach a higher mileage total without getting injured, since high miles is also closely linked to injury rates? The often-touted guideline of adding no more than 10 percent more miles from one week to the next is a starting point, but here’s a more strategic approach.

RELATED: A Smarter Way to Increase Running Mileage

5. Work on stride mechanics

A recent study from researchers at Harvard University followed 249 runners for more than two years to examine their injury rates and how those rates related to stride mechanics. Sure enough, the runners with better biomechanics experienced far fewer setbacks due to injuries. One simple piece of advice the researchers pointed to was to simply listen to your footsteps—the quieter the better.

RELATED: Footstrike 101: How Should Your Foot Hit the Ground?

6. Know when to back off

Runners are typically big on the value of “good work ethic” and “putting your nose to the grindstone.” That dedication is a big part of running’s appeal, but it can also be a recipe for disaster. Push your body too hard, too often and you will inevitably succumb to overtraining, which, almost by definition, puts you at risk of an injury.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Avoid Overtraining

7. Stay informed

Unfortunately, we have barely scratched the surface of the injuries and the strategies for overcoming them, that runners may need to know. If only there was a convenient way to research the causes and cures for dozens of running maladies, with searchable results and new information constantly being added. Hurray! Just such a resource does exist. Find it by visiting the Injury Prevention section of Competitor.com.

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How Running Surfaces and Speed Influences Your Risk of Injury http://running.competitor.com/2016/07/injury-prevention/how-running-surface-and-speed-influence-injury-risk_153528 Fri, 22 Jul 2016 00:53:23 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=153528 Both speed and running surfaces play a part in causing injuries, but it's not what you might commonly think is creating the problem.

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The next time you’re at the starting line of a race, look around and consider that the majority of nearby runners will likely experience an injury in the following year. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Despite innovations in shoe cushioning, training and sports science, the rate of running injuries hasn’t budged since shoes were being made in waffle irons. One of the reasons for this unchanging rate is likely that each runner is their own laboratory, with a specific set of injury do’s and don’ts that depend on gender, genetics and a whole host of other factors.

Part of that runner-specific individuality is the speed you run and surfaces you choose. Some love trails and some pound the concrete in dense urban jungles. But what surface is best, and how fast should you run to stay healthy? The answer to those questions isn’t as obvious as one would think, largely due to the fact that many of the commonly held notions about the causes of running injury don’t actually make the scientific cut.

Take running surface, for instance. Though popular belief holds that running on trails or softer surfaces is easier on the joints, well-established scientific evidence says otherwise. It turns out that the brain has its own version of a car’s road sensing suspension—something termed “muscle tuning.” While running, the brain constantly anticipates the stiffness of the surface—using data from past experience and information from the previous stride—and “tunes” how strongly the leg muscles contract before the foot hits the ground.

So when the trail gets softer, the leg becomes stiffer, leaving the net impact to the leg roughly the same. It’s how the body maintains the overall stiffness of the surface/shoe/leg combination and it’s the reason why running on softer surfaces doesn’t necessarily result in a lower rate of injury. The overall impact to the leg remains virtually the same whether running on trails, a beach or concrete.

But there’s an asterisk. “We know how the body adjusts to different surfaces in the short term, but what we don’t know are the long term consequences of running on a particular surface,” says Dr. Brian Heiderscheit, Director of the University of Wisconsin’s Runners’ Clinic.

Of course, the cushioning of the shoe impacts the equation as well, and could be part of the reason why ultra-cushioned shoes haven’t solved the injury conundrum. Just like a softer surface, the legs will adjust to a softer cushioned shoe by increasing leg stiffness. In fact, one of the few studies to evaluate shoe cushioning and impact forces found evidence to support the soft shoe, stiff landing theory.

What about the treadmill? The dampened surface of a treadmill has long been believed to be beneficial to the joints. But impact represents only one of the stresses to the body with running; also important is the stress to soft tissue structures like tendons and muscles. An example of this is running uphill—though it imposes less impact to the joints, the muscles of the calf, hamstring and hip have to work harder, increasing the stress to the hamstring and Achilles tendons.

In fact, in a recent study comparing loads to the kneecap and Achilles tendon during treadmill and overground running, researchers found a 14 percent greater overall stress to the Achilles tendon as compared to overground running (load to the kneecap was roughly equal during both). While the results of the study shouldn’t spur wholesale abandonment of treadmills, it should serve as a note of caution for those that use them regularly, especially those with a history of Achilles injury.

To minimize the risk of injury, Heiderscheit believes that runners should vary running surface, much like they vary their training plans. “Just like a runner would try runs of different intensities—tempo and interval training for instance—my advice is to incorporate a little bit of all the different surfaces into training,” Heiderscheit says.

RELATED: The Importance of Varying Your Running Surfaces

Just as the finer points of running style and foot landing have been scrutinized by experts, so too has the question of optimal running speed. With the link of speed work to overuse injury, many would assume that running faster equals a greater risk of injury.

But, again, every runner is different, and slower may not always be better. “The majority of forces generally scale up with increasing speed, but running faster isn’t necessarily uniformly more demanding to the entire body,” says Heiderscheit. The structures that face the greatest increase in demand are the muscles and tendons tasked to supplying that extra speed—hamstrings, calf and glutes—with other structures realizing a less pronounced demand.

Several recent studies illustrate that point. A 2015 article in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy sheds a little light on the role running speed plays in the amount of impact the knee experiences when running. Researchers from the Department of Public Health at Denmark’s Aarhus University asked a group of runners to run 1 kilometer at three different speeds: 5 mph, 7.3 mph and 9.8 mph.

Although the impact stress to the knee with every stride increased with faster running, the total stress to the knee was 30 percent less at the faster speed because of the lower number of strides needed to cover the same distance. On the basis of these findings, running longer distances at slower speeds, especially when fatigued, may contribute to overuse injuries of the knee.

Before you push the accelerator, consider again that injury risk can’t simply be boiled down to impact. Other research—conducted by the same Danish group and presented in Clinical Biomechanics—determined that the extra energy supplied by the muscles of the calf and foot with an increase in speed predisposes the Achilles and plantar fascia to injury.

The bottom line is: There isn’t one surface or speed that is right for everyone. For runners looking to avoid injury, cross-training shouldn’t just involve the elliptical or bike, but also running on different surfaces and at varied speeds.

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Why Your Upper Back Hurts When You Run http://running.competitor.com/2016/06/injury-prevention/upper-back-hurts-run_151708 Mon, 13 Jun 2016 21:55:55 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=151708 At the end of a long hard run, you expect your legs and lungs to be burning, but your upper back? No way. Unfortunately, “it’s a very

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At the end of a long hard run, you expect your legs and lungs to be burning, but your upper back? No way.

Unfortunately, “it’s a very common thing,” said Nick Studholme, a sports chiropractor in Colorado. As the intensity and length of a run increases, many runners will often experience a worsening sharp pain in their upper back, in between or under the shoulder blades. It’s not quite debilitating, but it sure is painful and annoying.

It’s particularly common in novice runners, said physical therapist Ben Shatto, but it can happen to anyone with poor technique or weak back muscles. And that’s most of us.

“Most people don’t get coaching on technique,” said Studholme, so we often have flaws in our form, which worsen as we fatigue.

As we get tired, our head tends to lean ahead of our body. This is generally for two reasons, said Studholme. Either we’re fatiguing and hyperextending the lower back, which leads to jutting the head forward. Or we’re essentially doing the opposite and slouching. Either way, once our head is in front of our body it puts pressure and weight on our upper back.

“It’s like a bowling ball on a stick,” said Shatto. That bowling ball is easier to hold when it’s straight up and down. But if you’re trying to hold it out at an angle in front of you, well, that’s harder. “It takes a lot of muscle to hold it up.”

The challenge with simply correcting your head position, said Studholm, is that if the other things that led to that aren’t fixed, then pretty soon you’ll be right back where you started.

There are other technique issues, too, that can contribute to upper back problems. We can hold our arms too high or too tight. Especially as we tire, our shoulders tend to rise and become tenser. Some of us swing our arms too much; some of us not enough. Studholm said, generally, he recommends an arm swing where your fist is next to your hip at one end of the swing and your elbow at the other. Many of us cross our body with our arms, creating torque on the upper back.

RELATED: Is There an Ideal Running Form?

Of course, diagnosing pain is never simple.

“Just because you have pain at x, y, z spot, doesn’t mean that’s the origin of your pain,” said Thomas Hyde, professor of sports medicine at University of Western States.

Hyde cites an example of a study where researchers looked at the fascia, connective tissue under the skin, in cadavers. When the fascia at the bottom of the spine was tugged on, it caused a counter-reaction felt in the opposite shoulder. If you’re feeling pain in your upper back when you run, it could actually be because of issues lower down the chain.

There’s also some research about the pain caused by peripherally sensitive nerves just under the skin, said Studholme. With repetitive motion, those nerves can get caught up in the tissue, which creates irritation. One of the things that makes those nerves so sensitive to irritation are changes in pH in that region. What one thing causes a change in pH? Lactic acid. Studholme said there’s some growing evidence that when local nerves are bathed in lactic acid, for example as you run longer or harder, that can make them more sensitive to irritation and ultimately cause pain. There are topical gels that can bring down the localized pH and taping methods that stop some of the nerves from getting stuck in the tissue. But then you’re still back to ground zero: fixing whatever caused the irritation in the first place.

For Shatto, fixing that initial issue is challenging. Much of our slouching, and the accompanying stress on our upper backs and shoulders, is “a function of society.” Runners aren’t different from everyone else these days—meaning that we spend lots of time sitting in front of computers or bent over our phones. “You’re always hunched over something,” said Shatto. That adds stress to the vertebrae and ligaments in our neck, shoulders, and back. We can deal with it most of the time, but when we start running it becomes too much.

“Those muscles get tired,” said Shatto.

Shatto recommends a series of exercises to strengthen the lower and mid trapezius muscles, and the rhomboid muscles, along the spine at the base of the neck, like shoulder extensions and pull-downs, as well as Supermans on the floor. Studholme also recommends targeting the serratus anterior muscles, which run along the side of the ribs up and under the shoulder blades. The difficulty is to get those muscles engaged without over-using the upper trap muscles, which is where most of us are dominant.

It’s also important to get your body to do the opposite of hunching forward and to stretch out the neck and upper back muscles. It doesn’t take a lot of time, especially if you do these things preemptively, but don’t expect to live your whole life slouched over and get rid of that pain after one stretch.

“If you spend 8-10 hours each day in front of the computer and you think 30 seconds on a foam roller is somehow going to change that,” said Studholme, well, you’re in for a surprise.

RELATED: Injuries Suck—Here’s How to Make the Best of Them

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Blisters: A 9-Step Plan for Trail Runners to Address Them http://running.competitor.com/2016/05/injury-prevention/blisters-a-9-step-plan-to-address-them_150553 Tue, 24 May 2016 19:08:30 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=150553 Blisters are a pain for runners, but they can be dealt with and even prevented.

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Adapted with permission of VeloPress from Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop, coach to elite ultramarathoners. In his book, Koop reveals his highly effective ultramarathon training methods for ultrarunners of all abilities.

Training is the first level of prevention in the formation of blisters. Your skin adapts to stress just like any other organ in your body. Many studies, primarily involving the military, have demonstrated that gradual exposure to frictional forces on the foot (through hikes and marches) decreases the skin’s susceptibility to blisters (Allan 1964; Hodges, DuClos, and Schnitzer 1975; Knapik et al. 1995).

As you train, your epidermal skin cells become thicker and in theory more cohesive, making them more resistant to blisters. How does this happen? As you run, you slough off skin cells faster than normal. These are rapidly replaced by new skin cells, but these young cells don’t get the chance to differentiate into layer-specific cells (epidermis, dermis) before they are stressed by another run (S. H. Kim et al. 2010). When this happens frequently over a relatively short time, it results in overthickened skin (i.e., the callus).

Still, you’ve got a great chance of getting blisters during an ultramarathon. Whenever you stress an organ or a structure in your body beyond its capabilities, you cause damage. Ultramarathons normally represent a longer, more difficult run than your day-to-day training, complicated by the fact most ultramarathon events occur in areas away from your home training grounds. The trail surface, camber, dirt, dust, and debris your feet encounter are undoubtedly different during the race than at home. Furthermore, your biomechanics are different depending on the properties of the trails, placing stresses on different areas of the skin of the foot. Therefore, the shoe/sock/powder/tape/lubricant/insole combination that worked in training may not always work during the race. Just as training on flat ground will not completely prepare you for a mountainous ultra, training on your home trails might not fully prepare your feet for the rigors of race day. Therefore, a combination of education, preventive measures, and wound care skills offers the most comprehensive way to ensure that your hard-earned training does not come undone by the unraveling of your feet on race day.

If you do get blisters (or the precursor, which is referred to as a “hot spot”), you have a decision to make: You can save some time and continue running, or stop and lose some time treating your feet. In making this decision, you need to balance your race-day goals, performance expectations, safety, and race situation. Generally speaking, the more time you have left to run and the bigger the problem could become, the more it is worth your while to take a few minutes and fix what is wrong. Don’t let little problems become big problems. My advice is to always err on the side of caution and fix problems early, particularly at the 100K and 100-mile distances, where there is a lot of ground to cover. Blisters come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and levels of discomfort. Treatments also come in many shapes and forms. Unless you are a medical professional with many years of blister management experience, a simple solution is always best.

I have found success with the following nine-step plan:

1. Clean the surface of the blister and the surrounding skin. If an alcohol pad or disinfectant is available, use it. If not, it is still usually best to proceed to step 2. You are less prone to infection if you can properly manage the blister while it is small and treatable. Large broken blisters will become more prone to infection more readily than small broken blisters because there is more opportunity to become infected through the larger area of damaged and exposed skin.
2. Puncture the blister with a needle, sharp scissors, or scalpel. Take care to puncture the blister enough to allow fluid to drain but not so much that the blister roof becomes detached. If you are using a needle (safety pins from a race number also work well), put three to four holes in the blister so that it will drain. Ideally, place the punctures such that fluid can continue to drain while you keep on running.
3. Squeeze the fluid out of the blister.
4. Clean and dry the surface of the blister and the surrounding skin. You are now prepping the skin to apply a patch, so ensure that it is dry and free of debris. You can choose to add a very small dab of lubricant to the blister roof. This is to prevent the patch from sticking to the blister roof when you eventually peel the tape off.
5. Size up the area you are going to patch, and cut a piece of tape or bandage to cover the blister. The patch should be large enough so that it can stick to the surrounding skin. If the blister is on a toe, this might mean wrapping the entire toe. If you do have to wrap a toe, it’s usually best to wrap the adjacent toes also so that the tape does not rub directly on adjacent skin.
6. Apply a tape adhesive such as tincture of benzoin to the area surrounding the blister. Although the tape has its own adhesive backing, using an additional tape adhesive will ensure a better stick.
7. Place the tape down on the skin from one edge of the tape to the other. Be careful to avoid folds and creases. If you do get a fold or a crease, start over.
8. Lightly press down on the patch to ensure the adhesive completely sticks to the skin.
9. Put your socks on, lace up your shoes, and run!

If you are particularly blister prone, practice various techniques at home. Cutting and placing the patch on the surface of the skin can be the most frustrating part of the process during a race. The tape is sticky and adheres to itself and to your fingers. You’re in a hurry. You’re sweaty and dirty. And you’re working in a dirty, dusty environment. Finding a routine and learning some simple skills goes a long way to making the process smoother and faster in race conditions. As with any other skill, practice makes perfect!

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Jason Koop is the Director of Coaching for CTS and a coach to elite ultrarunners. His new book Training Essentials for Ultrarunning reveals his highly effective ultramarathon training methods. The book is now available in bookstores, run shops, and online. Learn more at velopress.com/koop.

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Injuries Suck—Here’s How to Make the Best of Them http://running.competitor.com/2016/05/injury-prevention/how-to-turn-injuries-into-opportunities_149686 Tue, 03 May 2016 19:33:04 +0000 http://running.competitor.com/?p=149686 Turn your injury into an opportunities.

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Injuries suck. They are the horrible nightmares no runner wants to wake up to, be it from an accident or a product of overuse. Any medical setback throws a major wrench in training as well as sanity.

The good news is there’s a silver lining. Time off can serve as a rebalancing period to fine-tune mental toughness and focus and improve physical problem areas.

I wish someone told me that five years ago when my three-and-a-half year collegiate running career was cut short by redshirts, countless hours of cross-training and rehab, and the inability to train consistently.

Although I couldn’t get ahead of my injuries and wouldn’t have thought of my injuries as blessings in disguise at the time, those setbacks armed me with tools to become a better athlete, which I’m now reaping the benefits from as a marathoner.

There are many pros to your unfortunate injury con, which we’ll discuss in detail below. Be proactive and use this setback as an opportunity to revaluate your goals, improve your mental game and reignite your competitive fire.

Fine-tune mental drive and focus

Recovering from injuries is undoubtedly difficult, but it also gives you an opportunity to remember why you want to recover in the first place.

Why do you enjoy running? Why did you set the goals you have? Why is it important to you to achieve them?

These are all vital questions, as they are the reasons you do what you do every day. Take this time to reflect on them and realign yourself with their answers. It will refuel your desire to run, helping you persevere through the injury and appreciate running in a new light once you’ve overcome it. You’ll likely be more hungry to achieve your goals than you were before.

Rely less on the “schedule”

Sometimes we get so caught up in the little things–like our mileage plan, weekly training schedule and daily routines– that we forget why we’re doing them in the first place, or we panic when something out of routine happens.

It’s unrealistic to think you can stick to a set plan 100 percent of the time. You may not recover as well from a workout, not get enough sleep one week, or feel more fatigued than normal. Whatever the case may be, life happens and that’s okay.

Plans are in place to keep you on track, but remember they are fluid structures. They should ebb and flow according to your needs. So, be flexible and open to adaption; take it day-by-day. Doing so will also help you overcome adversity when it comes to race day. Because let’s face it, despite pre-competition visualization or training to accommodate for different race scenarios, there’s no telling how a race will go.

Listen to your body

The recipe to success is not necessarily a set quantity, consistently hitting your planned mileage, or always having workouts on Fridays and long runs on Sundays. It is being aware of your body, giving it what it needs, and trusting in the process. If you aren’t in tune with your body’s needs, you put yourself at a greater risk of future injuries.

Yes, motivation and dedication are excellent qualities to have as a runner, but it is just as important to know your limits. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself and training through aches and pains to hit your daily mileage or get through a workout.

Abnormal fatigue and pain are warning signs: your body telling you it needs recovery or you’re overworking it. The more you work on opening communication between your conscious mind and your body’s requirements, the better equipped you’ll be to avoid injuries and optimize your training and performances.

It takes some practice to know when your body is telling you to ease up and when you should keep pushing through. Are you tired or hurting simply as a result of having a good training day, or because you’re lacking proper recovery or you’re overtraining?

Often, simply stopping to ask yourself these questions can help you determine the best course of action. Other times it’s more difficult to tell, but conversing with a coach or training buddy can help you determine the answer.

“Recognize that most injuries are simply a temporary setback,” says Joseph Potts, a sports performance coach in Kansas City, “and can serve as a time of self-evaluation and progress where you can really work on your body and correct any individual weaknesses. Approach your rehabilitation and continued training with the same aggression and focus that you could use in competition.”

Beat your toughest competition

The biggest opponent is the one in your head. Come to grips with him or her through means such as meditation and establish a routine that will last post-injury. It will help you cope now as well as benefit your athletic performance later in numerous ways:

  • Focus: Something every runner can work on, and it will give you a competitive edge over your competition.
  • Cope with pain: Whether to help with the pain of an injury or the burn of a workout or race, runners are always dealing with something.
  • Mental Toughness: Be it self-doubt or dealing with adversity, being resilient will help you achieve your goals.
  • Reduce stress: Meditation is an effective option to help decrease some of the stress from being injured or other stresses in your personal or work life.

Just 10 minutes a day can go a long way.

An injury is a prime opportunity for athletes to exercise other cognitive implements, according to Vanderbilt Athletics Sports Psychologist and former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Dr. Vickie Woosley.

“The athlete would be able to spend time on techniques such as visualization, mental imagery, develop a strong mental toolbox of skills that are easily accessible for dealing with situations [during and outside of competition],” Woosley says.

She suggests athletes engage in talk therapy with a professional to learn how to best implement these techniques and to discuss fears, expectations, and what returning to a competitive environment may look like.

Harvest gratitude

It’s easy to get caught up in your routine when training. You put your head down and get it done. Each day is a checked box on your grand to-do list. Often times we’re so focused on the outcome, we forget to appreciate the process. Truly, “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” and time out of your routine makes this apparent. Recognize that every healthy day, whether an easy run or a tough workout, is another chance to do what you love and improve.

Have more time for other things

Look at the time needed to heal yourself from injury as an opportunity to reach out to family and friends who you otherwise had less time for when training. It’s the perfect excuse to reconnect. Fill your time with any and all people and activities that bring you joy, and the injury blues will fade away.

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