Q. I was inspired by the recent Miami and Fort Lauderdale marathons and have decided to get back into running. I want your advice as to how to return to this sport safely and decrease my risk of getting hurt.
A. Running is a great sport for both physical and mental conditioning. Overuse injuries are common, however, particularly among those who return too aggressively.
It is essential to warm up and stretch before running. Stretching should include hamstrings, quads, the iliotibial band (the tissue that runs outside the thigh), calf muscles and the lower back. It is also important to return on a gradual basis and to do some cross training.
On days when you are not running, good aerobic workouts include cycling, swimming or use of the elliptical. I also recommend training on soft surfaces such as grass, cushioned track, the beach or even a treadmill. I often tell patients that running on cement is good for my business.
Proper shoe wear with support and cushioning is crucial. In addition, do not wait for treads to wear out. By that time, you will already have lost cushioning support. Soft-cushioned orthotics can be placed in your running shoe to decrease the risk of stress fractures and other injuries.
Acclimating to the heat is important. Proper hydration before and during running will help with electrolyte balance and reduce the risk of cramping and dehydration.
I encourage you to go back to running, but take care to prevent overuse injuries.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctor’s Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net