Thousands of runners will participate in the New York City Marathon on November 7 and many more will be inspired to start running and get into shape. But whether you are training for the marathon or just running for pleasure, it’s important to avoid getting hurt. Dr. Kornel, who happens to be a NYC Marathon runner, offers the following advice on how runners can protect their spines – yes spines!:
- Stretch, stretch, stretch! Stretch before running to make sure muscles and tendons are not too stiff and tight. Don’t force the stretch; rather build it up gradually. Your longer stretch should be after the run to make sure the muscles and tendons that have just be worked hard do not spasm and to help them get rid of lactic acid build-up.
- Buy good running shoes that allow for a smooth stride and prevent you from pounding the pavement. You need to try various pairs to find which ones give you the most support and comfort. During your training shoes should be changed every six weeks because they wear out after going long distances and don’t maintain their ability to support you.
- Build up your running distance gradually. Don’t start out by trying to run well beyond what you have run before. Let your body adjust and develop as you increase your distance. Rather than runs that are too long, do exercises that build up your core muscles. These exercises are important because they support your spine.
*Most commonly, running can result in muscle and tendon strains as well as ligament sprains. There is also a risk of disc herniation and deterioration as well as wear-and-tear on the joints of the spine. Those with pre-existing disc problems need to be especially cautious before running and should get clearance from their doctor.