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If you’re of a certain age, you may remember the saying: “Danger, Will Robinson!” It was a warning, making people aware of potential harm. With the marathon date getting so close, we know you want to put in your best performance when race day comes. However, now also is peak time to pay attention to your body and watch for warning signs of overtraining.
“Runners are tenacious athletes,” says Mark McCarthy, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. “It’s tough to slow down at times, but listen to your body.”
When you are abruptly increasing the intensity of training, your body may send you warning signs that you need to pull back a bit. Some of these issues can be reversed with simple rest, but you should respond early before you have a bigger problem to deal with.
Your feet take a pounding as you run mile after mile. Callous blistering and broken toenails are a couple of the problems overtraining may bring on. Early morning pain on the sole of your foot can be a sign of plantar fasciitis. Tendonitis can leave you with pain directly in back of the ankle or in the front of your shins, also called shin splints.
“Typically, these can be treated with a period of relative rest,” Dr. McCarthy says. “Slow down your training. Go back to the level you were at before. Take an extra day off. These symptoms can be short term if you treat them early and appropriately.”
When pain continues despite rest, or gets worse, that could mean a bone issue—a potentially serious problem.
“You’ll often find stress reactions or stress fractures in the mid-foot, mid-shin or, most concerning, high up in your leg, by your hip,” says Dr. McCarthy. “These issues are typically more unrelenting in their pain. This warrants an early visit to a health care provider.”
As tough as you may be, training through unrelenting pain could lead to bone fractures, with your biggest worry being a hip fracture.
Knowing you worked hard to prepare will help add to your feeling of accomplishment at the finish line, but don’t overdo it. You’re almost there. Take care of yourself, so you can keep going strong all the way through the finish line.
Check out these tips for avoiding overuse injuries.