The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly brought about new challenges and stressors with so many people stuck at home. Exercise routines have been uprooted and even for the avid runner, going outside for a routine run can feel overwhelming and lonely trying to remain socially distant from other runners and pedestrians.
While everyone is looking for solutions to stay active, even the most experienced runners may experience new injuries, especially when switching from the treadmill to outdoors running or vice versa.
Jasmine Seider, P.T., DPT and Richard Pine, P.T., DPT. from Marine Corps Historic Half sponsor Select Physical Therapy offers insights into running safely and preventing injuries.
Q: What kinds of injuries is Select Physical Therapy seeing more of now than prior to the stay-at-home orders?
A: At Select Physical Therapy, we are seeing more overuse injuries associated with high volumes of walking or running. Cross-training is an effective way to reduce risk of developing these injuries, however, runners are facing additional challenges to cross train as gyms, pools and group classes are closed. These injuries may also be more frequent as new runners and returning runners put on more mileage without gradually building up muscle endurance to tolerate it. Other contributing factors may be not varying the running route or distance, old running shoes or running with a mask on, which can impact breathing efficiency.
It is important to take rest days, cross-train when possible and increase weekly mileage no more than 10% per weekto help avoid injury.
Q: Are there certain injuries that might be miscast as overuse but instead could be more significant?
A: A tibial stress fracture may be thought to be shin splits, but would actually require six to eight weeks off of running. X-rays may be needed to differentiate between the two. Meniscal tears are another concern for runners. Most people with small meniscal tears do very well with conservative treatment and continue running as tolerated. However, if pain worsens and you are unable to bear weight or continue running or walking due to pain, you should be evaluated by an orthopedist or physical therapist. If symptoms persist or worsen over time with rest, then you should see a doctor.
Q: Is Select Physical Therapy seeing patients? If so, how do you follow COVID-19 related guidelines? If not, what are some things you are doing for your patiens virtually?
A: During this unprecedented time, Select Physical Therapy is keenly focused on our patients’ safety while helping them heal from an injury or chronic condition. The Department of Homeland Security and federal and state governments have deemed physical therapy an essential component of health care during the coronavirus pandemic; therefore, our centers remain open to serve patients in need. We are taking extensive preventative measures, guided by the CDC, to protect our patients and employees who enter our centers.
In addition, we are also offering telerehab services so that patients can easily connect with one of our licensed therapists through web-based technology that is HIPAA compliant. Telerehab sessions may be offered in place of or in addition to in-person center sessions, dependent upon a patients’ condition and preference.
Q: What kinds of injuries are you seeing as a result of people changing their exercise routine and what’s your advice?
A: It is an adjustment going from running on a treadmill to asphalt or vice versa. Give your body time to adjust by decreasing distance or speed and slowly building back up. Hills can be an additional challenge to running outside as they require your hips, knees and ankles to work at different angles than on a flat treadmill. It is important to introduce these new activities gradually as your body adapts and develops more efficiency and strength.
Cross training including strength training, plyometrics or HIIT workouts and cycling. These are helpful in improving strength and posture as well as decreasing risk of injury. Always apply good exercise principles to new exercise activities. Remember to start slow and increase incrementally, ensure correct form and technique, listen to your body, schedule recovery days and include good post-workout nutrition. With weight training it is a good idea to have someone nearby to watch your form and spot you if you are using large amounts of weight.
Q: On preventative care, what advice can you provide to runners to stay injury-free?
- Don’t do too much too soon
- Get good running shoes every 6-12 months or 300-500 miles
- Listen to your body and respect recovery days
- Cross-train to strengthen under worked muscles
Q: Any feedback or guidance for runners on managing the stress that comes with this pandemic?
A: In addition to exercise, other things that can help with managing stress are eating well, getting quality sleep (recommended 7-9 hours per night), limiting screen time, virtual socializing with friends and family, writing in a journal and/or talking with a therapist.
Running the Historic Half events virtually or thinking of registering today? The event distance must be completed by May 21.
By Veronica Guitierrez
About Select Physical Therapy
Select Physical Therapy is part of the Select Medical Outpatient Division, a nationally prominent, locally driven provider of outpatient physical rehabilitation. Throughout the country, the Select Medical family of brands comprise a national network of more than 1,700 centers in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The centers offer a wide range of general physical therapy services such as hand therapy, sports medicine, pediatric therapy, prosthetics and orthotics and work injury prevention and management. Select Medical empowers its therapists by providing industry-leading continuing education opportunities. Select Medical’s Outpatient Division provides physical therapy and athletic training services to professional sports teams, colleges, universities and high schools and serves as the exclusive physical rehabilitation provider to several major U.S. corporations.
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