I didn’t start running until I was in my 30s, as a lifestyle change after a health scare. My friend, Braxton Pulley, DC and owner of East Village Chiropractic, was one of my biggest supporters as I learned how to run safely. He’s also helped me through a few slumps, injuries, and disappointments. With so many of our East Village Spa guests and his chiropractic patients training for races this season, I asked him to share advice to keep you runs safe and fun!
Q: Is running safe? Research seems to disagree.
A: Running is safe within reason. You have to listen to your body and remember that pain is a way for your body to tell you something isn’t right. If you have a persistent problem while running, talk with your health care professional. It could be shoes, mechanics, or prior injuries. It has been my experience that significant safety issues usually arise when people don’t pay attention to their bodies and just try to “walk it off.”
Q: What are the most common injuries you see in your patients who are runners and what can they do to help prevent them or recover from them?
A: Hip pain-focus on stretching your hip rotators, hip flexors, and hamstrings. Knee pain-most knee pain related to running that my patients present with tends to be from the IT band on the outside of the thigh. Massage can help. Plantar fascitis-this primarily stems from lack of stretching the calf. Stretch both the gastrocnemius and the soleus to help reduce likelihood of this injury.
Q: Should I stretch before or after I run?
A: This is the age old question. Recent evidence is showing that there is no benefit to stretching beforehand and some studies show stretching before running can increase the possibility of an injury. I think the entire argument is off-base. Warm up and cool down for your runs, but stretch every single evening, regardless of whether you have worked out that day. It can take a few days for muscles to tighten up, and stretching right after a run won’t do a lot for the soreness you may have 2 days later.
Q: How can someone safely start running?
A: The key is patience and setting a long term goal. It takes awhile to train your muscles and your lungs so be patient and persistent. There are a lot o f programs out there, but I have seen the “Couch to 5k” type program work well with many of our patients.
Q: What is your advice for dealing with the setbacks that are inevitable for runners?
A: Setbacks are going to happen. Injuries, weather, motivation, life…they happen. When it comes to running, enjoy the journey. When you can’t run, keep your mind in the game by using other aerobic activities (as tolerated) like swimming, biking, rowing, etc… This will also help keep your lungs engaged. When you are ready to run again, start slowly and work your way back to where you were. I think you’ll find that you recover much quicker than you think!
You can do it!
Whether you’re contemplating starting to walk or jog or you’re a seriously competitive runner, massage therapy and chiropractic care can help you achieve your goals. I’ve been fortunate to have advice and support from Dr. Pulley in my athletic endeavors. If you can’t make your chiropractor your running buddy (which is pretty convenient, I’m not going to lie!) at least turn to them for advice.