Body sensing is all about becoming aware of your body in order to pick up on potential problem areas. This is especially important if you’re a runner. Noticing and reacting to issues early will allow you to make the needed changes before chronic problems arise. In this article, we highlight the most common areas of the body to monitor as a runner.
The feet are the runner’s workhorse. If you plan to maintain a pain free running schedule, you’d better look after them. Let’s consider the most common injuries that are likely to suffer.
Blisters are caused by friction. This action causes the skin to split and fill with liquid. You can reduce your likelihood of getting blisters by moisturizing your feet before you head out for a run. When a blister starts to develop, apply petroleum jelly to the affected area. Nylon socks instead of cotton can also help to reduce blisters. Be sure, too, that you are running in well fitting shoes.
If your toenail blackens, this is an indication that the area under the nail is bleeding. This usually happens because the toe of your shoe is too tight. When buying shoes, be sure to allow for the natural foot swelling that occurs when you are running. You should also keep your toenails well trimmed.
Athlete’s Foot is the result of a fungal infection that results in itchiness, along with flaky skin. It is caused by a combination of moisture, heat and tight shoes. To reduce your chances of getting athlete’s foot, carefully dry your feet after having a shower. If you do get athlete’s foot, you can get treatment cream from your pharmacy.
The Rest of The Body
More common in men than in women,this problem results from repeated friction between loose fitting workout clothing and the nipple. It can cause soreness, irritation and even bleeding. To avoid this condition, wear a light, well fitting sports vest, ideally made of synthetic material. Women should wear a tight fitting sports bra.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
DOMS is common in beginning runners. It is caused by micro- trauma in the muscle fibers and shows up about 24 hours after exercise. To prevent DOMS, make sure that you warm up and cool down thoroughly. Make use of a foam roller to work on specific areas of your body. A post run massage will also do wonders.
Cramping can be defined as an involuntary over contraction of a muscle. It usually happens when you are approaching fatigue towards the end of a run. It may be caused by heat exhaustion, dehydration or loss of body salts through excessive sweating. Stretching and massage will lessen the likelihood of cramping. If you do experience cramping, stop running, sit down and stretch and massage the affected muscle.
This can be due to dehydration, eating difficult to digest foods prior to running, heat exhaustion or low blood sugar levels. To avoid it, don’t eat a heavy meal within 2 hours of your run, and stay hydrated, but be careful not to drink too much too quickly.
The reddening or burning of the skin caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays can be both painful and, potentially, deadly. Cover exposed skin with high factor sunscreen. If possible, run in the shade. If you do get sunburnt, and blistering occurs, seek medical advice.
When a part of the body is stressed to the point where it can no longer function properly, an injury occurs. Pain alerts you to injury. That is why you should never simply try to mask the pain. That will only make the injury worse.
There are two types of injury:
- Acute or sudden onset
- Chronic or long-term
An acute injury results from a specific action, whereas chronic injuries develop over time as a result of wear and tear.
Dealing with Acute Injuries
Acute injuries are often accompanied by sharp pain. Swelling may accompany the injury, especially if it affects soft tissue. This is caused by internal bleeding of ruptured blood vessels. If you have an acute injury, stop your training and apply the RICE procedure.
Dealing with Chronic Injuries
Chronic injury can often lead to a dull, nagging pain. It will generally require medical treatment. Do not return to running until the injury is completely healed. Be sure to follow through on any exercises that your medical specialist recommends. A serious chronic injury may require low
impact exercise like swimming as a stepping-stone back to running. When you do run, start slow and build up at your own pace.
A muscle strain occurs when the muscle fibers are overstretched. At the extreme level this can lead to a muscle tear. Strains are usually the result of sudden jerky movements, a sudden change in direction, poor running form or fatigue. A lack of warm up and stretching can also lead to muscle strain. Runners are more likely to experience strain in the leg muscles.
The treatment for a strain is to immediately stop running. Follow the RICE procedure as outlined at the end of the article, with the following specifics:
- Hamstring strain – straighten the leg to apply RICE
- Quadriceps – bend the leg to apply RICE
- Severe pain – immobilize the leg and seek urgent medical help
It’s easy for a new runner to get taken away with the thrill of running. This can lead to doing more than is sensible, even running beyond one’s set running plan, resulting in overtraining and burn out.
R = Rest by sitting or lying down
I = Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply for 20 minutes
C = Apply a compression bandage
E = Elevate the injured body part