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A physical therapist's perspective on injury prevention

Running is so simple, so engrained in us from a young age. Reflecting on my own journey as an athlete and runner, it is remarkable how much my approach has changed since became a physical therapist.

My stomach churned as we waited for the starting gun in the corral at the start of the New York City Marathon. I had no idea what I was doing here.

I had hastily signed up was because I was inspired by a friend who had just run 26.2 miles. I thought if she can do it, then so can I. I immediately told her I’d be running this one with her.  

I hopped on google and searched marathon training schedules, settling on a 3-month training program with one long run a week and an incremental increase of two miles per week. It seemed like a reasonable plan at the time.

The day that stands out in my memory, I was planning an 18 mile run when my running partner called to cancel at the last minute. It was early October with the leaves on the verge of changing color in the humid air on my college campus. My playlist was fresh and I was determined to have a good run, running alone for the first time. 

Without any warm-up I was on my second mile, feeling energetic as I was flying through the air in my Nike shoes. I felt as though I were on stage as I turned the corner  onto one of the most public roads in town. With my vision focused on my surroundings, I somehow missed the elevated sidewalk. As I lay there on the ground, I felt deprived of the slow motion falls

Sprwaled in a superwoman position, my knees already aching from contacting the pavement, I watched my iPod skitter down the street as passersby nervously glanced my way. I quickly pulled myself up and collected my iPod that was within sight. My knees were gushing with blood down to my shoe sand I thought to myself, this is so embarrassing and of course it would happen when running by myself. I took a moment to regroup and mentally continue my run. Although nearby passersby were staring and pointing at my bloody legs, I persisted onward. 

Having gone through physical therapy school and gaining expert knowledge of running, there are several things I would change about my training regimen. I now incorporate a training program with proper mileage volumes including step back runs with reduced mileage and tapering leading up to race day. I include a proper warm up with dynamic stretches and foam rolling to prepare my muscles for their performance. I invest in shoe fitting and include a break-in time for the shoes as part of my training regemin. And I always engage in run form analysis to ensure my joints are aligned, my movements are efficient, and my muscles are balanced.

Here at Rose I am surrounded by incredible athletes as clients, and even as fellow team members including one physical therapist who competes at the Ironman World Championship triathlon in Kona, HI. Being around this amazingly talented and successful group, I can see that most people have speed bumps with training. What I find gratifying is our focus at Rose on using advanced physical therapy techniques to keep athletes out there working toward their goals, keeping injuries at bay or preventing injuries from occurring in the first place. But for anyone pushing themselves, injuries can be inevitable but do not have to be debilitating. The most important lesson of physical therapy school is to not wait to treat an injury. Get out in front of any pains by working with a physical therapist, and this will keep you out there running for years to come.