The “Race to be Ready,” a 5K/1K Walk-Run and a FREE one-of-a-kind Emergency Preparedness Expo which I am the Race Director of, will be held at the Rancho Mirage High School on March 30th. This will be an event certain to be a fun and easy way to be better prepared. You will be able to experience an 8.0 earthquake and…. survive!! Go to racetobeready.com and be part of this momentous event endorsed by Senator Boxer, The Great California Shakeout and many other politicians and governmental agencies. We will show you how to live longer and safer the easy way!
Many of you who started your New Year’s resolution recently may now be experiencing some of the common running-related symptoms. Here’s your prescription for less pain and continued training. In case you did not know, when you exercise muscle fibers tear that can result with pain and stiffness. Lactic acid and other pain producing chemicals are common side effects of running and exercise. Since running can equate to 3-6 times your body weight, the pain level can reach a point where even a good night’s sleep does not allow your body to recover from all those healthy intentions.
I want to share some of my steadfast rules of self-care. Listen to your body and try to avoid the use of synthetic anti-inflammatories and painkillers. We have always known these drugs have their caveats; never take on an empty stomach and their use can cause your stomach to bleed. The recent link of acetaminophen to liver disease is just another reason to avoid depending on these over-the-counter drugs. Advil use caused a pro football player’s death in 1984! A female high school runner died from Bengay use on her shin splints in 2007! Try to use natural anti-inflammatories instead like white willow bark, bioflavonoids and essential fatty acids, unless you cannot sleep due to pain or discomfort, as sleep is probably the best recovery aid our body has. Calcium and magnesium supplements can reduce muscle tightness and cramping (my favorite is Bone-Up). They are the “spark plugs” necessary for muscle contractions and without them muscle spasms in the hamstrings and calves, especially in the evening can be excruciating for runners and walkers. These should be taken after lunch, dinner and at bedtime for optimum absorption and benefit. Epsom salt baths provide a valuable magnesium source to help relax those sore tight muscles. A cause of muscle cramping from excessive sweating during exercise can be due to excessive sodium loss. This is why the sports drinks Gatorade, Powerade, and Accelerade can be valuable in preventing muscle cramps. If you sweat a good amount when you are exercising, sore muscles that are not tight could be crying out for more potassium (a banana daily can help keep this pain away). Dr. Paul’s adage for specific exercise related pain treatment is crushed ice in a zip lock plastic bag wrapped with a paper towel for 15-20 minutes 2-4 times daily.
My most common recommended self-care tool for many of the most common running related symptoms is the foam roller for tight and sore hamstrings, quads, calves and ITBs. If the foam roller creates pain when you roll on it, you definitely need the treatment. Our Olympic athletes roll their legs and calves out on a PVC pipe the same thickness as the foam rollers! I also promote and show low back, hamstring and calf stretches in “Ask Dr Paul.” The traditional quad stretch of pulling the ankle and foot backwards to the buttocks is still indicated. The current recommended time to maintain a stretch is between 5 and 15 seconds, repeating 3 to 6 times, gradually increasing the stretched position. Easy does it! We recommend more stretching after than before exercising. UCLA volleyball players measured how high they could jump before and after stretching. Which way produced higher jumps? Right, minimal stretching before jumping produced higher jumps.
My special foot taping technique can immediately reduce the nagging morning just out of bed “stepped on a rock” heel pain from plantar fasciitis and even help shin splints and achilles tendonitis. The point of pain shin taping technique can give immediate relief to shin splints. Kinesiology tape can be applied to the achilles, hamstrings, quads, ITBs and groin pains. Other effective products to treat and prevent these common running symptoms are the compression socks, calve sleeves and leg products like those from the company 2XU. Custom orthotics are shoe inserts used by 80% of serious marathoners and probably the most important part of a runner’s tool kit.
Cross training on a running day with aerobic activities like swimming, biking, or the elliptical machine are excellent alternative aerobic exercises to help reduce running overuse conditions and boredom. My three favorite longevity strength exercises in “Ask Dr Paul” are the superman, hip flexor scissors and the glut/hamstring ball exercises. These can be done on your non-running days 2-3 times a week.
A visit to your sports chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist is always beneficial in helping you recover faster and continue to improve your overall fitness level. These treatments can be paramount in your life-long pursuit to staying active and maintaining longevity. Only 95% of our Olympic athletes use these types of treatments to recuperate quicker and perform at their best!
Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, D.C., C.C.F.C.