Thursday, August 12, 2010

Common Running Mishaps

During your run, may it be an official event or simply a training routine, you may find yourself some discomfort, but not necessarily injured. These are known as running mishaps. Running mishaps are experienced not only by newbie runners like me, but also by seasoned runners. Below are some commonly encountered running mishaps (compiled from different sources) together with some tips on how to deal with them.

Blisters. Blisters can happen to everyone who is into running. There are several factors that can lead to early blistering during  a run, the most common reason perhaps is the shoes or even the socks. Of course another factor is our feet is not yet accustomed to the heavy pounding that it receives during running and the  long hours that it has to run within an enclosed environment (shoes),

Prevention is the most effective way to prevent blistering. Use petroleum jelly or a body glide on areas you are prone to blistering. Check your socks and be sure it is suitable for running, remember that cotton socks are not your best friend because they retain moisture which can speed up blistering. Be sure that the shoes you are wearing fits you. Buy shoes in the afternoon where your feet has already expanded. A shoe that is too tight or too loose may increase the chance of blisters.

Recovery plan. If it is just a short run, you can continue running till the race ends. But for longer runs, it is recommended to deal with the blister before it gets worse. You can cover the blister with a band aid. If you are still far from the aid station, try loosening up the laces to ease the pressure on the blistering part or you can tighten it to prevent heel slippage if it is the case. If your socks are too wet, consider changing them.

Muscle Cramps. One main cause of muscle cramps is  inadequate hydration. Make sure you are properly hydrated. Always take note that water is just sufficient for runs not longer than an hour, but if it is longer, energy drinks with electrolytes and calories are recommended.

Recovery plan. If a cramp hits you mid-run stop, apply pressure to muscle for 15 seconds (don’t massage), then gently stretch (lengthen the muscle), repeat pressure/stretch if needed. Start walking when resolved, then resume running. If you frequently deal with cramps in a specific muscle group try to stretch this area before, during, and after the run.

Black Toe Nails. Yes, there is a black toe nail club that you can join if you are into running. They develop when the constant friction of the running motion pushes the nail against the shoe causing fluid and blood to build up underneath the nail bed. It can be caused by ill fitting shoes or socks, hot weather (causing the feet to swell more), or race courses with lots of downhill sections. Its not life threatening, they will fall off within a short month. Wear them with pride!

Chaffing. This usually occurs in areas where constant rubbing is common through out the race. To prevent chafing wear moisture wicking gear (no seams or tags) that has the correct fit. Too much material can cause irritation and a too tight garment can dig into skin. Apply Vaseline, sports lube, Band-Aids, or NipGuards before you run to any vulnerable area. Wash with soap and water and apply an antibacterial ointment and light bandage. 

As an additional tip, do not wear something new during the race. Try them first and have a test run before the big day. This can help you determine if the material used on the singlet or short that you will wear can introduce high risk of chaffing.

Runner’s Trots. The jostling motion of running can irritate some runner’s intestines and nerves causing increased mixing of food and loose stools or excessive gas. While running the blood is diverted from the digestive tract to the legs and that can cause “dumping syndrome” if there is undigested food.

To prevent GI distress try to eat at least 2 hours before a run, avoid caffeine and artificial sweeteners (mannitol and sorbitol), and milk products which can speed up GI movement. Try to add more fiber to your diet slowly to make yourself more regular. Avoid dairy products 24-48 hours before a long run or race (many people have reduced lactase which breaks down milk products). If this clears up your symptoms then you’ll know that dairy products are the culprits.

Also try ingesting a low-residue diet (less fiber) 24 hours before the race to reduce bulk. Chronic (ongoing) diarrhea can also be caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in your intestines. Try eating yogurt with active probiotic cultures or a probiotic supplement to return the bowel flora to normal. Try to have a bowel movement before your run or race (drinking warm water and a little light movement may help stimulate one). If dietary changes aren’t effective to prevent this problem take an anti-diarrheal medicine on race morning or before your long runs.

Just make sure you know where the portable toilets are in case all else fails.

Side Stitch.   A side stitch (also called a side ache, a side cramp, a side crampie, a side sticker or simply a stitch) is an intense stabbing pain under the lower edge of the ribcage that occurs while exercising, most common if the exerciser is a beginner.

Recovery plan. Notice which foot is striking the ground when you inhale and exhale. Then switch the pattern. So if you were leading with your right foot, inhale when the left foot steps. If that doesn't help, stop running and reach both arms above your head. Bend at the waist, leaning to the side opposite the stitch.

Sprain or Ankle Turn. A sprained ankle, also known as an ankle sprain, or as twisted ankle, rolled ankle, ankle injury or ankle ligament injury, is a common medical condition where one or more of the ligaments of the ankle is torn or partially torn.

Recovery plan. If you suffered a minor sprain, your first few steps will be painful. But once the ankle loosens up, you'll be able to run on it and get back in the race with ease. Stop if your pain is more severe with each step—that's a sign of a fracture.

Stiffness After a Pit Stop.  While we want to keep ourself hydrated most of the time by stopping at any water station that we can see, sometimes this breaks our momentum and somewhat results in a discomfort.

Recovery plan. Keep your breaks brief—two minutes at most. Walk while taking water rather than coming to a complete stop. Start back up slowly; don't resume your prior pace right away. 

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