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Practice Makes Perfect: How Common Injuries Can Be Avoided

 Shayne McCoy

Most of us are not taught to run, and can admit that we just picked up the skill naturally. Just like with any sport, runners must focus on proper form and technique to prevent common injuries. Some injuries are not visible from the onset, but can be exasperated when running further distances. Read about the mistakes I made training for my first marathon and the lessons I learned along the way. 

You could say it was love at first step. My first running memory was winning my elementary school’s annual Jog-A-Thon in Kindergarten. This natural talent and passion evolved during high school, where I ran all four years on the Varsity track and cross-country team injury free. It wasn’t until I started working full time in the endurance sports industry that I started participating in half marathons and marathons. After having a few half marathons under my belt, I took the plunge and signed up for LA Marathon. Two weeks prior to the big day, I signed up for the inaugural Women’s Half Marathon in San Diego in hopes of running off some of my pre-race jitters. This would prove to be a big mistake. I ran a strong race, slowing at mile 8 when I began to feel intense pain in my feet and heels. Although the last leg of the race was painful, I ended with a PR finishing in 1:51. True to my competitive nature, I wouldn’t let a little pain stop me from running the marathon. My adrenaline was pumping when race day arrived. It wasn’t until mile 16 that I hit what runners call “the wall”, and I hit it hard. Each step became increasingly more painful, I felt like I was running on needles and that at any moment the band in the arch of my foot would snap. I continued through the pain, trying to focus on the sideline entertainment to get me through. As I crossed the finish line , I burst into tears relieved that it was over. I loved and hated every moment.

I later discovered that the pain I was experiencing near the end of my training and on race day was none other than plantar fasciitis which is an, “…inflammation of the thick tissue, or fascia, that runs along the bottom of the foot” due to overuse. [ Competitor Running ] Plantar fasciitis is difficult to understand, as it’s tough to relate to until you’ve experienced it first-hand. The injury was frustrating and debilitating. Receiving no relief, I eventually sought treatment with physical therapist, Jonathan Pierce of Fix Body Group, who specializes in soft tissue injuries. With consistent rehab and strength training, I was finally able to get back to running after 5 months off.

Why after years of running injury free did this issue spring up? As my therapist Jonathan Pierce explains, “People reach a breaking point when they run a half marathon or marathon. Any imbalances in the body are brought to the forefront and injuries occur when the body can no longer manage the stress.” I learned that my injury stemmed from running too far forward on my feet causing unnecessary stress on my arch. Strength training to correct my form and proper running shoes could have corrected this problem.

So what can you take away from my story? Know your body: Focus on form and technique, and strength train to correct imbalances that later lead to injury. Running is an art, work hard to perfect your skill and you will reap the rewards.

Here are some quick and easy strength training exercises that can help you avoid injury:

1.  Sqauts

Single Leg Squat

Double Leg Squat

2.  Dead Lift (with Kettle Bell)

Deadlift

3.  Kettle Bell Swing  

KettleSwing

4.  Step Up 

StepUp

 *Equipment Needed: Box Step and Kettle Bell