Answered by a Top Sports Doctor
An orthopedic surgeon shares health and training tips to common injury-related questions
Dr. Cordelia Carter, an orthopedic sports surgeon and running performance specialist from NYU Langone Sports Health answers the most common health and running injury questions.
What is the best way to prevent delayed shin splints and ankle pain?
Shin splints are a repetitive, over-use injury. To prevent and treat them, Dr. Carter says to think about variety. Are you running the same course, or in the same shoes? What can you change up a little bit? Shin splints should improve with time. If they last for longer than a week, and especially if you have a limp, it could mean you’ve developed a stress fracture. That’s when it’s time to see a doctor. However, to prevent it from getting to that point, start by taking a full day or two off and replace your run with cross training.
Do you have any tips for preventing and dealing with hamstring tightness?
The running injury that starts with a gradual achy soreness can be prevented through core and peripelvic strengthening programmes–monster walks, donkey kicks, and squat jumps.
How do I recover from and prevent stress fractures?
If you think you have a stress fracture, visit a doctor who will assess if you need additional treatment—typically that involves rest strengthening exercises. Stress fractures most often occur because you are doing too much, too soon.
Should I adjust my form to deal with an IT band injury?
Make sure you are strengthening your core and leg muscles. This will improve your form naturally so that you don’t have to think about how you’re moving at all. If you’re still concerned, go to a sports performance centre, and have your running gait analyzed. Tweaks can then be made that are data driven. Remember: when you’re tired, your form falls apart, and that’s what you’re most at risk for this kind of injury.
How can you tell the difference between normal soreness and an actual injury?
As Dr. Carter says, “This is the toughest question: when is it ok to keep going and when is it not?” When the pain doesn’t go away with a little bit of rest, this could be a sign of a more serious injury. The new bone formations caused by stress fractures don’t show up for at least a few weeks on X-rays, so it’s important to have an MRI which can detect a micro fracture. The largest area for concern? The hip. Visit your doctor if this area is bothering you.
Are squats and lunges bad for you if you have knee pain issues?
You might still be able to do squats and lunges in a modified way, with a single leg lunge, leg press, or simply not going as deep. Strengthening is your best friend and you will get stronger and be able to do more exercises if you make this part of your daily routine. Squats and lunges are the hallmark for treating runner’s knee and many other common running issues.
How do I stop getting injured?
Yoga is a great way to work on flexibility and strengthening. When you sense a running injury, be OK with cutting a run short so you can run again that week. Sometimes it’s not the joints that wear down, it can be the tendons, and you have to make shifts in the amount of running you do so that we can continue to run!
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