Dear Running Doc:
It’s now October and I have 1 month until the NYC marathon. This will be my 12th marathon in a row. Every year I get an injury to my left or right lower extremity. Can you tell me what the most common last-minute injuries are, how to prevent them and how to fix them in time to continue to run the marathon? Kim T., NYC, NY
Thanks Kim, this is a great question. Let’s go over the common injuries I see in my office and how I get runners to complete the race. In all cases make sure your running shoes are not over worn (changed every 500 miles) and an overall stretching program has not been neglected.
ITB Syndrome: This comes from the IT Band being too tight and rubbing on the bone. You need to increase IT Band stretches and foam roller use to stretch out the Band. The inflammation should be treated with ice and anti-inflammatories. The closer you get to the race PRP works very well to get you race ready quick.
Hamstring Pulls (Tears): The typical runner tests an inflexible hamstring with a speed workout in the last month before the race. Unless it’s a huge tear, PRP treatments can have you running within a week.
Plantar Fasciitis: The inflammation of this connective tissue that makes the arch on the bottom of the foot can be very painful especially near the heel. Non-worn shoes changed not too close to the marathon, ice, golf ball exercise, calf stretches, fresh orthotics and anti-inflammatories all usually do the trick. Last minute cures are possible with PRP treatments.
Hamstring Tendonitis: A pain high up into your but has probably been chronic. Exercise and stretching alone will not have you ready for race day; recovery time is too long. In this case most probably PRP treatments are the only treatments that can get you ready for race day.
Patellofemoral Syndrome: Overuse injury to the cartilage under the kneecap causing pain cannot be treated by usual methods close to the race. PRP treatments are the only treatment in conjunction with usual treatments that will get you race ready.
These are the most common injuries and conditions I see in my office a month before the marathon. The know standard use of PRP has changed the way we treat patients and get more injuries race ready quickly. If you can afford it, there should be no reason for you to defer your number last minute.
If you start the race and begin to have pain, you still may be able to finish and not do permanent damage. Use pain as a guide. If you maintain your form you are safe to continue. If the pain becomes such that it changes your running form you need to slow down and shorten your stride length. If you still cannot maintain your form at the slower pace, please stop at a medical station and be evaluated as to whether it is safe to continue.
I hope this is helpful Kim. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to write. We hope at the NY Daily News that you have a safe and fun race.
Enjoy the Ride!
Lewis G. Maharam, MD, FACSM is one of the world’s most extensively credentialed and well-known sports health experts. Better known as Running Doc™, Maharam is author of Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running and past medical director of the NYC Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series. He is also past president of the New York Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. Learn more at runningdoc.com.
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