Marathon Training - Injuries - Part 3

By: Kevin Barclay PT,SCS, ATC,CSCS
CFO- Co-Owner of Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.

It would not be surprising to get an ache, pain or soreness after weeks and months of marathon training. The important thing  is to take care of these problems before they become actual injuries.  I often tell my athletes that it is OK to participate with soreness or even mild pain, but if you need to change your normal pattern of movement to accomplish a task, you’re injured.  The key to taking care of injuries is actually preventing them (proper shoes, proper training, early treatment, proper diet, etc..).  However, if you find yourself injured, there are a few important things to consider to avoid an abrupt end to your training.
1)      Acknowledge  it: Aches and pains should be addressed immediately through ice, active rest and medication ( as your MD dictates).  Ignoring problems, hoping they will go away and “working through” the pain are not very effective ways of treating yourself. The ‘no pain no gain’ mentality is a great way to turn an annoyance into an injury.
2)      Cross train: If you are experiencing pain with running do not be afraid to train alternative ways.  Although running would  be preferred  for a marathoner, many programs also support utilizing bikes, ellipticals, swimming and strength training as part of their program.  Even if running is your sole source of training it makes sense to continue exercising  the muscles and systems you will need for the marathon, even if you can’t run.  Keeping yourself in shape while maintaining  physical health should be your main goal.
3)      Seek assistance: If proper training, home treatments and alternative exercises are not helping you need to seek assistance by a trained professional.  At ORS we can assist in the assessment and treatment needs of your injury.  If further  medical treatments or assessments are indicated we will refer you to the proper medical professional.  Many times we can help with your injuries while you still are training.  Our Alter G and underwater treadmills allow running while minimizing the load placed on your back and lower body.  We also have alternate treatments such as Graston Technique and Wellwave  that assist with healing of chronic  injuries.  An evaluation by our performance coaches could help find weakness and restriction that could be contributing to your problems.
4)      Medical assessment: Getting medical evaluation and proper diagnostic testing could be the thing that keeps your shin splints from becoming stress fractures and tendonitis from becoming tears. Significant pain, inability to run and loss of normal function should receive proper medical evaluation.
5)      Set new goals: It is better to reset your goals for your marathon than to try and work through problems that will lead to you missing it all together.   Completing a marathon is an awesome accomplishment, regardless of time.  However, it is better to miss your marathon all together  than to cause injury that may permanently alter your running career.
Run smart and healthy and enjoy your training!