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Peachtree Prep: Tips to cross the finish line injury-free

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Since Atlanta is home to the largest 10K in the world, runners from all across the United States and beyond will flock to the city for the Peachtree Road Race this Fourth of July.

As you’re testing your times and getting geared up for the race, have you made sure you’ve done everything possible to stay safe and prevent injury both before and after the race?

From sprained ankles to shin splints, approximately 35-45 percent of runners suffer a running-related injury every year. Bauerfeind’s physical therapist, Erin Grigsby, offers her tips below to keep your body at peak performance before, during and after the race.

Q: What precautions can you take during training to prevent common running injuries?
A: When training, it’s best to break a light sweat during a good warm-up before running full-out and trying to achieve your best times. Please ramp up your mileage slowly over time to prevent strained muscles. Alternate your route to keep your muscles challenged and to reduce repetitive stress. On off days, make sure to stretch. A flexible muscle is less likely to be injured. Lastly, as with almost all sports, wear good shoes!

Q: What can a runner can do during the race to stay injury-free? If a runner is dealing with a previous injury, how can he or she keep pain to a minimum during the race?
A: It’s all about preparing your body prior to a race, so if you don’t do an appropriate warm-up or hydrate the night before, you are putting yourself at risk of injury. Make sure to listen to your body throughout the race – it will tell you what it needs! This is especially true for those with previous injuries: get plenty of rest before the race and wear a compression support, when needed, to help reduce pain and swelling.

Q: What should you do after the race to keep injury-free? Since it is Independence Day, many runners will participate in the holiday celebrations – should they stay away from alcohol and/or swimming?
A: After you’ve crossed the finish line, get in a little post-race stretch and ice if needed to reduce pain. Like I mentioned before, don’t forget to hydrate, get some rest and make healthy food choices. Remember that alcohol dehydrates you, so consume in moderation if you choose to enjoy a drink after the race. For every alcoholic drink you consume, follow it with a glass of water – while of course being mindful that your alcohol tolerance may be lower after strenuous exercise. Be extra cautious of your alcohol consumption if you are outside, as heat exposure can further dehydrate you. I would advise swimming only in areas where you are able to stand. Cooling off at the pool or lake is a great way to relax your muscles after the race, but steer clear of strenuous swimming particularly in deep water as you will be more prone to muscle cramping and thus at a greater risk of drowning.

Q. If you do sustain an injury during a race, what should your next steps be?
A. Always remember R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This is the first line of defense to conservatively treat injuries. Since the Peachtree Road Race is on a holiday, following this procedure is the best way to relieve pain in the short-term. If pain persists, contact your health care provider.

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