Medical Aspects of Running and Running-related Injuries
"Runners are the 'healthiest sick people in the world'", according to ultrarunner Jeff Robbins. In an email that I received from him he added, “One of the problems with the ultras is that you are always stressing things to the limits. Therefore problems tend to crop up. Half the fun in this sport is learning to deal with adversity no matter how it comes." Injury is a runner's most dreaded and aggravating obstacle. Sometimes no matter how much the mind wills it, the body cannot go on without causing itself permanent damage. Pushing beyond these limitations will eventually cause the body to rebel and self-destruct. There are preventative measures that can be taken to stop these injuries from occurring, however, runners still get hurt. It is most important to treat not only the injury itself, but the cause of the injury. "Running injuries have a unique feature; an identifiable and treatable cause. And until that cause is rectified, the conventional approach- the rest, drugs, injections, and surgery- is just an expensive waste of time" (Noakes 450). Running injuries an intrinsic; the result of "the athlete's genetic build, training environment, and training methods" (Noakes 453). Each running-related health problem has a cause and that cause needs to be corrected before the runner can rid himself of the injury permanently. George Sheenan, an expert on the medical aspects of running, believes that runners and doctors should, "Treat the reason, not the result. Treat the cause, not the effect." Too many runners do not listen to their bodies and continue to aggravate these injuries. "It is wise to listen to your body, for your stubborn mind can lead you astray" (Glover 260).
In preparing this paper a few members of the American University UltraRunning listserve were very helpful. Jason Hodde, Jeff Robbins, Norm Yarger, and Karl King each personally emailed me with insightful information on running-related injuries. The listserve is such a great interactive source of information. Who better to learn from but the runners themselves? They are the ones who have to cope with the injuries. Any amount of personal experience through trial and error is better advice than book knowledge. This is the reason why so many runners advise that running-related injuries should be taken to a doctor who has running experience because he will be more inclined to look to rectify the cause of the injury instead of resorting to surgery.
The best way to prevent injuries from occurring is to take the appropriate precautionary actions. The first major rule is: don’t strain. The majority of running injuries occur from overtraining. It is important for a runner to incorporate hard days and easy days into his/her exercise routine. You need to give your body time to rest so that it can repair itself. Fatigue accumulates and if you don't ease up occasionally, you won't improve. Being overtired will eventually lead to...