My last blog contained some personal tips to stay safe running in the summer heat; avoiding dangerous situations, staying hydrated, and structuring your running routine to minimize injuries. Sadly, occasional injuries are inescapable for anyone who consistently works at remaining physically active and fit. For aging athletes like myself, injuries seem to occur with far greater frequency. Fortunately, I have a good chiropractor and an understanding primary care doctor. The consensus is that my joints are better off being occasionally sore than they would be carrying around another 20-30 pounds all the time.
The most frustrating aspect of injuries is that they keep you from running, at least temporarily, and even a short duration layoff is more time than you’d like. But look on the bright side. Change is nothing new. Your workout routine has probably already changed during the pandemic, especially if you were used to running with a group of friends. Your visits to the physical therapist or massage therapist have been drastically curtailed or cancelled altogether. You’re trying to stay healthy by restricting your binge watching of Netflix and HBO series to late night with your significant other, and up until this last week there have been no live sports on TV to keep you on the couch. The bottom line is that you can keep healthy and feeling good even when you’re not running. Here are a few injury tips I’ve learned from personal experience and gleaned from the experts.
1. Stay Motivated. Buy that new pair of running shoes or that new gear you’ve been admiring. Buy a book on running or physical fitness training.
2. Try Alternate Exercises. Begin light activity on other forms of exercise, like cycling or swimming. This might also be a good time to try yoga.
3. Reduce Your Food Intake. Unless your goal in the swimming pool is to be the next Michael Phelps, you are probably burning a lot less calories than you were running.
4. Avoid Comfort Foods and Nutrition-less Snacks. Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants and polyphenols that help to reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy immune system, which is especially important now.
5. Stay Well Hydrated. Drinking plenty of water every day will help keep your immune system healthy. The recommended daily intake is one half your weight in ounces. A sedentary 160-pound person requires 80 ounces of water each day, and this amount increases when you exercise, especially in the summer heat.
Injuries happen to us all, but as with so much else in life – an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure. Twisting your ankle on a rock or stepping into that unseen pothole may be unavoidable but overextending yourself to the point of injury is foolish and even dangerous. Caution is even more critical in the heat and humidity. Stay alert, well hydrated, and aware of any worrisome changes in your respiration and your body. If you are injured, give your body time to heal. Resuming full activity prematurely will only lead to greater injury and a longer recovery. STAY SAFE.