Preventing Sports Related Injuries
by Andy Baldwin
This past weekend I ran the longest distance I have ever run in my life – 40 miles.
It was my final long training run in preparation for the Comrades Ultramarathon. On May 30, I will run 56 miles with my teammates in South Africa in an effort to get over 1,500 children sponsored in Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa through Team World Vision. We need your help. Please consider sponsoring a child in need by going to www.theultimatecause.org. I sponsor little five year old Matt-Andy in South Africa and will visit him after our run. I can’t wait!
The past few months have been full of intense training and racing. I’ve done eight marathons, a triathlon, and a 50k race since November. Oftentimes my muscles… hurt and my body aches from the training. But I recognize the difference between musculoskeletal soreness due to intense training versus pain related to an injury.
Have you ever heard the slogan “No Pain, No Gain?”
I hate this phrase.
It may be intended to inspire, however I think oftentimes novice athletes may hear this and interpret it too literally. There is a significant difference between “discomfort” of pushing ones limits, and “pain” in an area of the body signaling ongoing or pending injury. This pain is the body’s way of saying “Stop!” and you must listen to this and learn to distinguish the difference between these two types of physical pain.
To relate a personal story, when I was a senior in high school, I decided to try out for the cross-country team. For many years I had been a competitive swimmer spending hours in the pool each day, but had never done the equivalent as a runner on land. To prepare for the cross-country season I started logging many miles each week, doing runs in the morning and at night. I tried to make my workouts “hurt” by taking on hills and pushing the pace and distance of each run. A pounding heart, a body drenched in sweat and overall physical fatigue is good discomfort. At some point in my training, I started to feel sharp pain and soreness in my upper leg, but chose to ignore it. I kept getting up early in the morning to run while each step I took resulted in immense physical pain. One morning while thinking that “No Pain, No Gain” was the way to go, I took a hard step, heard a loud CRACK and my leg buckled to the ground. I had fractured my femur in the femoral neck. It was excruciatingly painful and to this day I can remember the sound of the ambulance siren as I was transported to the hospital. Needless to say there was no cross country season for me that year.
Learn to listen to your body, take precautions early on; you can prevent injury by taking care of your body.
Here are a few tips on how to prevent sports injuries during your training:
1. Warm up and cool down properly. Don’t go into a high impact activity like running without getting your blood pumping and stretching. Hit the exercise bike, stair climber or elliptical machine for 10-15 minutes before getting on the treadmill or pounding the pavement.
2. After a hard workout, make sure you hydrate adequately and have a good meal full of protein, vegetables, and whole grains. Treat your body for the exercise it has done, and take a day off for rest after a hard workout.
3. Yoga rocks! Yoga has been my solution for injury prevention over the years. The poses that yoga takes you through builds intrinsic muscle strength around joints like your ankles, knees, and hips that help provide better support and balance, thus preventing injuries. Additionally it improves your core strength and range of motion through stretching. This leads to better performance.
4. Massage. During the years I have trained intensely for triathlons and marathons I have tried to get an hour long massage at least every other week. Massage helps to stimulate blood flow to the muscles and flush the toxins and lactic acid out of the muscle belly. This may leave you even sorer the following day, but it will benefit you in the long run. Be sure to drink lots of water post-massage!!
Train safe and smart!
As taken from his blog on the Nautica web page: (http://360blog.nautica.com/2010/04/26/preventing-sports-related-injuries-by-andy-baldwin-2177)