Tips for Blister Prevention

With a little forethought, blisters, in most cases, can be avoided and cause very little trouble.

 Signs and Symptoms

These painful, fluid-filled lesions on the outer layer of your skin–usually your feet–always have a layer of skin covering them. Their color can range from clear to red or blue if blood vessels break. If you pay close attention to your body, you’ll feel a blister before it has even formed. The area will start to feel “hot” and uncomfortable. Stop right now and the blister will never form. Keep going, and you’ll have no doubt that you have a blister. At the very least, a small blister will burn and tingle slightly. A large blister can become so painful it will force you to stop exercising.

Causes

Improper Shoes: Shoes that are too big or too small can cause your foot to move around too much, or to continually hit the side of the shoe. This friction causes blisters.

The Wrong Socks: Wearing socks that are too big or too small, or ones that are made of an irritating material, can cause blisters. Wearing no socks at all can also cause problems.

Protruding Foot Parts: Sometimes a prominent part of your foot, such as a bunion or hammer toes, sticks out and rubs against your shoes and causes friction.

Too Much Moisture: If you exercise in shoes that are damp from sweat or rain, it will cause your foot to slide around and cause friction.

Change in Exercise Surface: The friction of running on hot surfaces, such as an asphalt street in the middle of the day can cause blisters. Also, switching to a different track can be the culprit.

Treatment

Drain the blister. If the blister is very large and painful, boil a needle or razor blade for 15 minutes to sterilize it. Cleanse the area with alcohol and slightly puncture the blister two or three times. The liquid will drain out and relief should be immediate. Do not take the piece of skin that acts as the roof of the blister off. This skin will protect the tender skin underneath. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic and place a gauze pad over the blister. Tape the pad around the blister. Remove the pad at night to allow air to circulate.

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Top ten Ways To Avoid Running Injuries

Top Ten Ways To Avoid Running Injuries:

1) Pay attention to your body.

Don’t ignore what your body is telling you. If something is hurting pay attention to it, find out why, and change what is making it hurt. Rest if necessary, but if the pain doesn’t fade, don’t forget a visit to the doctor’s office if necessary.

2) Avoid the terrible “too’s”.

Don’t do too much, too soon, too often, too fast, too hard, with too little rest.

3) Don’t change things that are working.

Don’t look for the latest and greatest running shoe or even training method. Don’t switch from slow and steady to suddenly doing an all interval workout because someone says you will lose weight quicker and with only 20 minutes of “cardio”. Shoes may be cautiously changed and training should be gradually and sensibly changed. Of course slow and steady is not the only way to train, and for most runners it will not be.

4) Increase training slowly.

The 10% rule for most people is the maximum increase per week, not the minimum. Every third week drop your mileage significantly before moving ahead again from the previous week. The recovery week will allow your body to repair while having a “relative” rest week.

5) Wear running shoes (sport specific shoes) and change them frequently

Don’t run in tennis or cross trainer shoes. Some people like to alternate pairs of shoes to retain their shock absorbing capabilities. But whatever you do, make certain to replace your running shoes every 350 – 450 miles of running. If you run over 30 miles per week, and perhaps even less, make sure you use your shoes exclusively for running, so that you do not waste them with walking miles. The walking is admittedly easier on the shoe than running, but still creates wear and tear.

6) Eat healthy: Not too much, not too little, and a bit less junk

Don’t forget to eat enough healthy foods. Make certain to have adequate calcium and healthy fats (such as the omega fats found in certain fish and fish oil capsules). Don’t forget vegetables and protein sources. Check the origin of your food, particularly check farmed fish which may come from countries which have significant issues of safety with their food supply. (In actuality there are some problems, although different problems with farmed fish from all countries and certain safety issues with fish at sea.) Make sure you don’t cut your caloric level too drastically while dieting. You need fuel to exercise.

7) Strength train two to three days per week.

Musculoskeletal fitness is one of the pillars of fitness. Strength training can be helpful for a variety of reasons. Core strengthening helps many people. And improving lean body weight by increasing muscle helps dieting indirectly and is good for your overall health. If you are a serious, competitive, long distance runner be extremely careful with lower extremity weights, and make sure to stop several weeks before a race. Carefully observe how your training sessions go, and make sure they are not slowing you down, or that fatigue from your strength training sessions are not limiting your long runs. It is probably best to do them before a rest day or an easy day. On days where you may be doing both running and strength training, run first, if you are primarily a runner.

8) Warm up gently before running, Stretch gently when finished

Stretching is not a warm up. It is a flexibility exercise. Evidence is mixed on whether it helps avoid injury, but studies of stretching before running do not show any benefit. Stretching works better after you are warmed up. Run easy for your first 10 minutes of running. Take short steps, move slowly, let your body gradually warm up and adapt to the stresses you are about to place on it. There are many changes that your body will be making to make your running go smoothly, efficiently and easily. Give it a chance to get prepared. If you are doing speed work, this 10 minutes will not be enough. You’ll need a longer and more complex warm up.

9) Use a Carb/Protein mix after long runs and after hard runs or workouts.

This can be a chocolate milk shake or a protein powder mix.

10) Enjoy your runs and workouts.

This should ultimately be fun time, and something you look forward to. Find new paths if you need them, use old favorites if you prefer. Find something to enjoy on each run. Even the accomplishment of getting through a run on an extreme weather day (cold, rainy, not a code orange day) can feel great.

Minor Problems Every Runner Deals With

Runners have several minor problems that they may have to deal with while training.  The following problems effect the novice runner to the elite runners.  The problems are usually more irritating that painful.

Blisters are really minor burns caused by friction.  They can be prevented by wearing properly fitted shoes.  At the first sign of a blister, cover the skin with moleskin or a bandage.  The individual should release the fluid by slicing the side of the blister, treat it with antiseptic, and cover with a band-aid.

Muscle soreness usually develops 24 hours after running.  It occurs in the muscles involved and may be due to microscopic tears in the muscle, connective tissue, or muscle fibers.  Muscle soreness usually occurs at the beginning of the season,  after a harder than usual workout, or a longer than usual workout.  I have experienced muscle soreness after running with someone who is significantly slower than me.  You can minimize the soreness by gradually increasing runs and stretching before running.  If you develop muscle soreness lightly stretch the area.

Muscle cramps are powerful involuntary muscle contractions.  Normally we tell our muscles when to contract and relax.  Cramps are the result of a muscle not relaxing.  Relief comes when the cramped muscle is stretched and massaged.  However that doesn’t remove the cause of the contraction.  Salt and calcium are both involved in the chemistry of a cramp/ contraction.  Cold muscles cramp more often so it is important to warm up properly before running.  During hot weather it is important to keep replacing salt and potassium.

Bone bruises usually occur on the bottom of a runners foot.  These bruises can be prevented by careful foot placement and  buying quality shoes.  A bruise can delay you running for several weeks.  There is no instant cure for a bruise, so preventing one is  best.

Ankle problems such as ankle sprains should be iced immediately.  If you ice the ankle immediately you have a better chance of running the next day.  Ankle wraps, lace up supports of tape help runners return after an ankle sprain while giving the weaken ankle support.  First aid for a sprained ankle in ice, compression and elevation.

Ankle Sprains

Running on uneven surfaces like trails and even the roads can cause one to sprain an ankle.  Some say an ankle sprain is worse than a fracture.  Fractures are usually taken care by immobilization and activity restrictions.  The runner with a sprain often tries to return to running before the injury is completely healed.  This could put you at risk for a more server injury because the ankle is unstable.

Ankle sprains are usually caused by a sudden lateral or medial twist.  The most common ankle sprain is the  inversion sprain which is a result of  the foot to turning inward.  Lateral ankle sprains are graded by the ligaments involved in the injury.  A first degree sprain involves damage to the anterior talofibular ligament.  A second degree sprain involves damage to the calcaneofibular ligament.  A third degree sprain involves damage to the posterior talofibular ligament. The extent of ankle swelling is not the indicator of the severity of the injury.

The most common type of ankle sprain is the first degree sprain.  You may feel mild pain with local swelling over the ligament area and tenderness if the area is touched.  The best thing to do for this type of ankle sprain is ice for 20 minutes every few hours and limit running for a few days.  When the ankle is pain-free and not swollen try doing circle exercises (circle the foot 20 times in one direction and then 20 times in the other directions several times a day).  When you return running you may need to wear a wrap on the ankle to give it support.  The wrap will provide a comfortable pressure once you return to running.

Second degree sprains is a problem for athletes because it involves days of lost training.  This sprain the athlete usually complains about a tearing sensation followed by a pop or snap sound when the injury happened.  The ankle is swollen with tenderness at the sprain site.  Some ecchymosis (black and blue skin colorization) will be seen 3-4 days after the injury happened.  This ankle sprain can make the ankle unstable and pron to future sprains.  The best thing to do for this type of sprain is ice the area often for 24-72 hours.  The individual should get an x-ray and may need crutches for 5-10 days to keep weight off the ankle.  You may need to wear an air cast for a few days.  It is important to seek medical attention to give you the best results for a quick return to running.

Third degree ankle sprains are relatively uncommon is sports.  When it does happen it is very painful and disabling.  They complain of server pain in the area of the sprain, swelling and tenderness  occurs over the entire lateral side of the ankle.  This is the result of  three ligament being torn.  This best thing to do is seek medical attention and be patient rehab will take a while In some cases this type of ankle sprain the individual has a cast for 3 weeks followed by an air cast that can be removed for exercises.

Many ankle sprains can be reduced by properly stretching the Achilles tendon,  strengthening key muscles, wearing proper footwear and if needed taping an ankle that has been sprained before.

Running Injuries

There are many running related injuries but if you train properly you can decrease your risk of getting an injury.  Stretching (before and after running) will help keep your body flexible reducing the chances of getting an injury.  When you start stretching to make sure you hit all the major muscles start stretching from the head down or the feet up.  Stretch until you feel the muscle getting tight and hold it .  Warming the muscles up before trying to run is another way to reduce injuries.  The easiest way to have a visual for this is take a rubber band and soak it cold water.  Take it out and try to stretch it chances are it will snap.  Now take another rubber band and soak it in hot water.  Take it out and stretch it.  The one soaked in hot water will stretch.  Proper footwear will also help reduce injuries since many running injuries are due to improper footwear.  If  you have pain below the hips, look at your shoes first.  How old are they?  Are they the right shoes for me?  Are they the right shoes for what you are doing?  If you feel you may have an injury then you need to stop exercising, ice the area and seek medical attention.  If you seek medical attention go to someone who works with athletes not your physician because they will be able to help you return to running sooner.  Rest and ice will cure most running injuries but it is better if you never get then in the first place.  Listen to your body as you train it will tell you something is wrong.  Often you only need to back off or take an easy day or two and it will go away.