How Physical Therapy Can Help You Run Marathons
About the Author:
Today’s blog post is a guest post from Amanda Smith, DPT, from Specialized Orthopedic Physical Therapy in Warwick, RI. Amanda has been a Physical Therapist at SOPT since 2013 after receiving her Doctorate in PT from Sacred Heart University. Before attending Sacred Heart, she received her Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Rhode Island where she was also a member of the track team. Amanda not only has experience in treating marathoners, but has also run multiple half marathons as well as the Chicago Marathon in 2014.
If you are training for a marathon this upcoming fall like the Ocean State Rhode Race down in Narragansett or the New England Series Day you may need physical therapy to get you through it. Running marathons is not only physically demanding on your body but mentally. The more prepared you are the better you will feel about running it. You can’t just put the miles in during the week to complete a marathon, you need to do the extra stuff.
SO WHAT IS THE EXTRA STUFF THAT CAN HELP ME RUN MARATHONS?
Stretching, strengthening, cross training, foam rolling, ice and recovery time are all just as important as training when it comes to marathons. Establishing a good stretching and warm up routine is crucial before a run. Most people think static stretching for 20 minutes beforehand will help prepare you for your run, when in fact dynamic stretching will be more beneficial to help the muscles warm up in a fashion that is related to running.
If you want to run 26.2 miles your muscles need to be built for that. Endurance in your muscles is the most important to prevent injury. One of the most important muscle groups in your body needing endurance is your gluteal muscles, especially your gluteus medius and minimus. These muscles help stabilize your pelvis in single leg stance and prevent abnormal mechanics down the chain. Believe it or not, you are mostly always in single leg stance while running. Many runners tend to have weak or low endurance in these muscles which eventually contribute to injury.
On days where you need to take a break from running, but need to maintain your cardiovascular endurance training try riding the bike, swimming or pool running. These activities can help keep up your training while allowing your joints to rest from running.
It is inevitable to feel tightness in your legs and even your back while building up the miles. If you are starting to get back pain or tightness it could be attributed to weak abdominal muscles or tightness in your hips. Foam rolling is a great way to improve mobility in your tissue. A common tight tissue in runners that can become a problem if not addressed is your IT band.
Lastly, recovery time and icing are very important to prevent overuse injuries. Rest is just as important as mileage. Overdoing it will lead to injury. If you are starting to feel any pain at all, it will be best to get it checked out early with a sports performance physical therapist. The physical therapists at Specialized Orthopedic Physical Therapy can analyze your running patterns, evaluate your foot structure and recommend shoe-ware but also treat any aches/pains through manual therapy and appropriate exercise. In the meantime, use Ice! Icing is a great way to decrease the inflammation in your muscles and joints. Whether it is an ice pack, ice bath or a cryotherapy chamber at Northeast Cryo in Cranston RI, ice is the best natural anti-inflammatory that will help you recover quicker and get you back out on your next run feeling good.
Don’t hesitate to call Specialized Orthopedic Therapy at 401-384-6490, located in Warwick, RI. We will help you achieve your goal of running a marathon and most importantly try to get you through it injury free!