Carolinas HealthCare System
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How to Avoid Injuries While Training for a Marathon

Running a marathon has long been one of the holy grails of sports. Everyone from teens to retirees push themselves to the limit to complete the 26.2 mile course. It’s an accomplishment unlike any other.

Before running the race, one has to train. David Price, MD, of Sports Medicine & Injury Care at Carolinas HealthCare System, discusses the various injuries—and how to avoid them—while preparing for a marathon.

Find the Right Shoes

Beginning a marathon-training program is not as easy as lacing up your running shoes and walking out the door. The first thing you should do is get fitted with good shoes, said Dr. Price.

"Don’t just use an off-the-shelf shoe. Find a store that will properly fit you based on your running form and foot type.”

Common Running Injuries

Runners can be plagued with a variety of injuries. However, the knees and feet are prone to problems. The most common injuries that occur due to lack of proper training include:

  • Patellofemoral stress syndrome – also known as runner’s knee, it is the most common running injury that affects the kneecap (patella).
  • Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome – an overuse injury that occurs when a tendon rubs against the knee.
  • Plantar fasciitis – involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantas facia, which runs across the bottom of a person’s foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain.
  • Achilles tendonitis – pain or tenderness of the tendon in the calf muscle or above the heel.
  • Other common injuries include shin splints, stress fractures and pulled hamstrings.

Avoid Injury While Training

Dr. Price recommends building a solid running base. “Get your body used to running,” he said. “Add only 10 percent of total mileage per week and make sure to follow a certified training program that is safe for you.”

Following the 10 percent rule when beginning a training regime can help you avoid injuries caused by overtraining. The 10 percent rule is to simply add 10 percent more mileage every week to your running routine. For example, if you were running 10 miles one week, the next week you’d increase the distance to 11 miles.

Once you’re in the heart of training season, it’s important to keep the potential for injuries in mind and train right to avoid them. Other than running, Dr. Price recommends adding cross training workouts to strengthen your core, lower back and hips.

Once the Race is Over

After months of training and preparation, the moment you cross the finish line you may be wondering – what next? Immediately following the race, make sure to continue drinking water, stretch your body out and relax. In the following weeks, take it easy. Ease back into your training. During the first week concentrate on cross training, followed by week two when you should start with short, easy runs and work your way up until you feel ready to start adding distance.

Get Expert Advice

The Sports Medicine & Injury Care experts are available at our eight convenient locations to help you get started on your marathon goal. Walk-in patients are welcome or call 704-863-HURT to make an appointment today.