Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them During the NYC Marathon

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Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them During the NYC Marathon

Why Inuries occur at events like the NYC Marathon

NYC Marathon at Marcus Garvey Park
New York Marathon, Marcus Garvey Park

In the coming weeks the Marathon will be upon us and many hundreds of thousands of people are training for it as I type. This is always an exciting time, but today even more so since the NY Marathon was sadly cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. If there is a bright side to that, it’s that many of the participants had an entire year to train for this year’s event. Hopefully that will mean we see less injuries, more record times, more participants and more new runners.

There is no way through this beast of an event other than training hard, consistently and, most importantly, training smart. I hate to say it but there is always the possibility of a runner getting injured due to overtraining, under training, inadequate nutrition, lack of information or being new to running. With these things in mind, we can make informed decisions in our workouts to minimize our chances of getting injured while accomplishing our ultimate goals. Whether that goal is finishing number one or finishing at all, we can get there without hurting ourselves. Below I will list 3 possible injuries that a runner might experience during training or the marathon. These injuries are usually caused by repetitive use.

Common running injuries

  1. Runner’s Knee (patellofemoral syndrome) – This injury is self explanatory. This is an injury to the knee mainly caused by over-usage. A runner may experience pain on the kneecap or around the knee.
  1. IT Band Syndrome (iliotibial band syndrome) – The IT band is a fascial sheath that runs down the lateral aspect of your thigh that tends to pull in different directions by hypertonic or tight muscles that are connected to it, such as your lateral hamstring and/ or your lateral quadriceps and/ or your TFL (tensor fascia latae). A runner may experience hip or knee pain due to a repeated rubbing or friction to the IT band to the bone, especially around the later aspect of your knee. The pain becomes more pronounced when you bend the knee.
  1. Achilles Tendinitis – Your Achilles tendon is what connects your calf muscle to your heel. We wouldn’t be able to walk without it, let alone run. There are many reasons why a runner may develop Achilles tendinitis but a common one is super tight calves and/ or weak calves that puts stress on the Achilles leading to inflammation of the tendon – hence the name! This can make it very painful to walk, especially if the tendon isn’t warmed up. Athletes who suffer from this injury will notice, upon taking the first few steps after being stationary for a period of time, that it will be extremely painful at first then the pain subsides.

Now I’m going to list prevention strategies a runner should consider before training and before the marathon.

Preventing injury while running

Body Mechanics Sports Therapists Emanuel Gomez headshot
A Sports Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer, Emanuel! Check out his bio .
  1. A proper warm up – There is nothing more valuable than a proper warm up. It’s one of the tenets of injury prevention across the board. Making sure that you get a proper full body warm up will get your body and mind ready for the activity.
  1. Increasing your running volume slowly – This is very important if you want to increase your fitness level properly and safely without hitting a wall. Many inexperienced athletes will try to bite more than they can chew and end up either getting injured or becoming discouraged because they couldn’t handle the load. So, make sure you increase your volume slowly and methodically in order for you to develop your strength and endurance the right way.
  2. Cross training – Many athletes are so dedicated to their craft that they won’t deviate from their primary sport. However, cross training can be very beneficial for improving your overall athleticism for your primary sport. For instance, consider weight lifting for running. Light weight training can strengthen the core, hips, balance and coordination: all things that a runner needs. An amazing tool for injury prevention.

The NYC Marathon is a big deal and historical event, but participating doesn’t mean you need to completely sacrifice your body. Take the precautions I’ve laid out here and find a healing sports massage to minimize your chances of a major injury. Good luck!

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Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Plantar Fasciitis and Massage Therapy

Many years ago – in what seems like the Dark Ages, I was in school to become a registered massage therapist (RMT) in Ontario, Cananada and was taught a standard massage treatment for plantar fasciitis and runners. 

The massage therapy mostly focused on the foot. It involved stretching the plantar aspect of the client’s foot by cranking the toes into extension forcefully and pulling the bottom of the foot tight. Then while your client was face down and you had this position achieved, you were to take your thumbs or even an elbow and dig away at the tissue until you had eradicated all of the ‘granular’ scar tissue. 

I quite clearly remember my teacher saying that we needed to then ice the bottom of the foot immediately, as he slapped an ice pack on my friend who was a runner and triathlete. I remember her gingerly limping off post-treatment. I can’t remember how long it was before she ran again after that. Who knows?  No explaination was ever given for the method of treatment. They never explained that the purpose was to break down tissue and re-injure the site to facilitate healing. But it surely stank of that mode of treatment, and it did not make sense. 

Why do we need to hurt someone to make a massage work? 

Now let me ask you a question, a question that I will likely repeat in multiple blog posts: If you come to me, as a medical practitioner, and you complain of a black eye, and I punch you in the same eye and tell you it will facilitate healing, does that make sense? No! So why is it acceptable in massage? Certainly it applys to plantar fasciitis and massage. 

Massaging the leg for runners
Photo by Adam Ninyo

Years later, I now teach a very different method to address runner’s issues to the therapists at Body Mechanics. It is far more gentle, treats the entire lower leg as well as upper (depending on time constraints), engages the brain by moving the body, and involves a referral to PT or exercise depending on the level of experience the runner or athlete has. 

The Plantar Fasciitis Massage Treatment

When assessing, we are looking at a far wider spectrum of dysfunction than simply plantar fasciitis. Indicators that there might be an issue or impending problem include heel pain, pain in the bottom of the foot, and sometimes calf pain. Of course with any assessment, we screen to rule out red flags as well. The symptoms listed above can also correlate with a recent increase in mileage or speed work for runners, or a weight change, plyometrics or recent changes in health. If there is no connection to the assessment you’re probably going to want to refer out regardless to check for bone Spurs and tendon issues. 

For the purposes of this blog let’s focus on the lower leg. I generally combine in-prone, general massage with gentle pin and stretch. Having the patient flex and extend the ankle as well as pronate and supinate. I am looking to see a full articulation of the foot and ankle. Often you will see that those with foot pain also have poor articulation. Resistance in these areas can be added to help cue the body into moving better. Once we have warmed the area with massage and movement, adding resistance to those movements is helpful. While many massages focus on the muscles, at Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage I like to include tendon work, like “bowing,” as well. We want soft supple moving parts so practicing flexibility is helpful. 

When treating the bottom of the foot, I no longer use that awful stripping technique that requires an ice pack. Instead, I use a hot towel to warm the foot and then use a deeper gliding technique across the sole, while I have the patient flex and extend the toes, or spread them and let them fall to neutral. Here, if things are still not moving well we would add in some mobilizations between the tarsals and resisted exercises for the toes. 

As for home care, if the problem persists, we will refer you to a physical therapist and if it does not, then we would advise you to a program of foot and calf strengthening as injury prevention. As a massage therapist, I am not rehabbing you.  My job is to get you more comfortable while your body does what it does and what it was designed to do. It is adaptive. It will adapt, with or without me.

Summing up…

A warm towel? Simple exercises? No digging thumbs or elbows into the client’s foot? This is a far cry from the painful techniques that I was taught! No one is limping painfully off our tables before a run. The clinical outcomes seem just as effective and I’d say are more beneficial. If you are looking for a therapist who will not hurt you to help you, ask questions before you book. Look for someone who listens well and has a wide variety of techniques at their disposal. It would be a shame to miss your next run due to foot pain… especially if it was caused by the person trying to help you.

Check out more on plantar issues

 

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Do You Want to Run Like a Spartan? Try a Run at The Spartan Sprint.

 

The Spartan Sprint run took place at Citi Field on Saturday April 16th 2016.

citi field stadium. New York, New YorkSoooo my friends and I signed up for the Spartan Sprint run at Citi Field. What is a Spartan Sprint you ask? Well…it can be a lot of things but this one is a fantastic 3 mile + obstacle course race through Citi Field stadium.  I am a runner by trade and have been running for years, but I am also scrappy. I spent my early childhood scrabbling up trees so I was totally up for this challenge. And who does not want to break up the running season with something a little different!

A Spartan is an obstacle course race. This one happens to use Citi Field as its tromping ground. To be fair, I have no idea how many obstacles we actually did:), I will go more into that later, but the whole race takes you on a run all over the stadium, through the bleachers, up the stairs, through the parking lots, on the field and in the back tunnels. If you are a sports fan, it is kind of amazing. The views are fantastic and I can truly say, never have I ever seen more of a stadium.

One of the nice things about this race is the location, which is easily accessible by car or by train.  I took a train there and my racing buddy drove, neither one of us had any problems. We simply met up in the parking lot where we picked up our bibs and tags like any other race.Race entry packet, Spartan Sprint New York

This was easy and well organized. We had formed a team, so we were essentially running at the same time with a drawn go-time of 9:30 am. Being a team has it’s benefits and to be truthful this is one of the really nice things about the Spartan culture. While running is usually a solo project, the Spartan races allow you to form teams and do the race as a group which allows for your teammates to help you on challenges that might be just out-of-reach.  If you fail an obsticals, a teammate can help you or share in the penalty (30 burpee’s) to ease the burden.

This race had some great obstacle in it. A short list includes, rope climb, crawling under/over things, spear throwing, bucket carrying (with and without water), general lifting and hauling of things, a  plank skateboard thing, jumping rope and some other odds and ends. The set up is simple…run, then stop and perform a task (while the refs cheer you on). If you fail the task for some reason or cannot complete it due to physical reason then you can opt for 30 burpee’s. Sadly, we did not do a great job of documenting it because we were so busy running! But we managed to capture these shots from the obstacles.

IMG_5794 (1) Spartan Sprint run NY, NY

 

By the time we finished the race it was 10;30 or so…keep in mind we talked to other runners and wandered around snacking on the free goodies provided and comparing race stories. By that time there were a lot more families coming in to race too. They run a children’s Spartan race along side the adult one which is wonderful.

As an entry level, this sprint is a great time. It is challenging if you do all the obstacles and are in reasonable shape, but so long as you are fairly active I think any group that likes a challenge could participate in it. There were loads of people who walked the course rather than ran. The ability to share tasks makes the tasks achievable, but you can always opt out and take the burpee penalty. So as long as you know your skill level, you can keep yourself safe from injury. I say this with a grain of salt because any time you are doing complex activities while you are tired, you could easily hurt yourself…so be carful out there! And injury is relative. I would totally expect to come home with a few of these beauties! Since we were a little beat up we recovered by treating ourselves to Spa Castle for a sauna, which is just a short drive away.

IMG_5805 (1) FullSizeRender (16) (1)

But you will also get an amazing day, some great new skills and this….IMG_5809 (1)

Totally worth it. I really enjoyed the switch up from running, to some more skill oriented tasks. As a woman, I also have to say one of the nice things about races like this is it challenges you to build upper body strength in a really useful, practical way. I really do not know if I will ever have to bench a bunch of weights cold, but you never know; I totally might have to lift my body over a fence while running one day.