A woman crossing the finish line of a race.
Sports / Orthopedic

How to Cross the Finish Line Injury-Free

Apr 23 2021

Here are five tips to help you cross the finish line injury-free during your next race!

First, visit your primary care provider.

Check in with them to make sure your body is ready to endure the entire length of your upcoming race.

“Risk factors, despite all of your training, should be evaluated before you run your first race,” says J.A. Smith, DO, a Mercy Health sports medicine specialist.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, definitely be sure to see your primary care provider before running your race:

  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • History of heart problems, including elevated blood pressure
  • Symptoms associated with COVID-19
  • Unexplained fainting spells

Second, pace yourself.

Many runners increase their weekly mileage too quickly. Mitigate your risk of injury by slowly increasing your distance.

The most common injury seen in runners from increasing mileage too quickly is patellofemoral pain syndrome, a condition when the cartilage under the kneecap is damaged.

Third, stay hydrated.

Dehydration in runners can lead to muscle cramping, headaches, nausea and it slows you down.

“A general rule of thumb is to take in 4-6 ounces of fluid, every 20 minutes,” shares Dr. Smith. “Make sure you’re aware of early signs of dehydration: thirst, dry mouth, feeling fatigued or sluggish. As dehydration progresses, that’s where you’ll notice that you stop sweating, experience headaches, muscle cramps, nausea and fatigue.”

Pro tip: chilled water, as opposed to room temperature or warm water, helps cool your body down.

Fourth, get treated for any injuries ahead of time.

Some runners will endure some type of injury during training or on race day. Some common ones, in addition to patellofemoral pain syndrome, are plantar fasciitis and iliotibial band syndrome.

If you’re suffering from discomfort while training, the pain gets worse the longer you run or the pain lingers when you stop running, take some time off your feet to recover. Then, if your discomfort is still not resolving, see a sports medicine provider to help identify the issue.

Fifth, and last but not least, recover.

Congratulations, you finished your race! Be sure you listen to your body, get rest and recover. A cool down, including stretching, after your race is important to help with muscle recovery. Be sure to keep hydrating and enjoy a high-protein snack too.

We hope you keep these tips in mind – especially those participating in the Toledo Glass City Marathon this Sunday, April 25. Best of luck to all the runners!  

If you forgot to sign up for the in-person races this year, there is still time to register for this year’s virtual race options.

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