For runners, the arrival of fall means more than just shorter days and longer sleeves. Fall foliage signals a critical time of the year, when our bodies deserve special attention. Especially for those anticipating marathon or other demanding competitive events, there is a tendency to increase mileage on training runs, which can be a recipe for disaster. In these first weeks of autumn, we should take a lesson from the trees – cut back, slow down. As the trees drop their leaves, you can afford to drop a few miles from your weekly mileage, as a safeguard against injury.
We often see an increase in injuries at this season, and you should be vigilant in heeding any early warning signs – swelling, mild discomfort, tenderness – that suggest you are exceeding your body’s limits. Resist the temptation to push through when pain arises; it is always better to adjust your training schedule modestly now, rather than lose your momentum altogether due to an injury. Early recognition is a key to maintaining health.
Not all warnings come in the form of pain. Irritability, insomnia, or a change in appetite can be signs of impending injury or illness. A simple rule-of-thumb is to measure your resting heart rate in the morning, then gear your workout in relationship to this. Autumn is a good time to assess your equipment, after a full summer season. How are your shoes? 300 to 500 miles, or 3 to 6 months, is the normal duration before replacing your running shoes.
At any season, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis represent particularly painful challenges to the runner. A patient recently reported that a fellow runner recommended a Castor oil compress to facilitate heeling of a sore Achilles. A much more effective remedy is a night splint, which, by holding the foot in a dorsiflexed position, provides a passive stretch through 8 hours of sleep. Other treatment approaches might include supportive footwear, arch taping, and physical therapy.
Remember though, if you have persistent pain, we are here to help you. Just give us a ring!