Q. and A. with Yera Patel, a physical therapist
What kind of injuries do you see at the beginning of the year?
It’s a new year, and people are extra motivated, so runners will just go out there and run for long distances. The biggest thing we see across the board — whether it’s a seasoned runner or a new runner — are the overuse injuries.
Overuse injuries can happen for multiple reasons. Sometimes it’s nutritional reasons, sometimes it’s the lack of strength and flexibility, but more often than not it’s a matter of their training programming.
How should runners approach their training to avoid overuse injuries?
Programming is the most important thing. It can be so disappointing for someone when they get excited about running and then they get something like a bone stress injury, what’s colloquially referred to as shin splints. So make sure it’s a gradual plan that has diversity.
Talk to someone who has done it before, or look online for a plan that has variety on a week-to-week basis. Instead of just running long distances, do hill training, speed training, strength training and cross training.
What would you recommend for someone just getting started with strength training?
We suggest a lot of unilateral work — that is, a lot of single-leg work. You want to work the glutes and quads. Really working in a single-leg capacity translates to bounding from one leg to the next.
Cross training is also really huge. At least once a week you should be resting or doing some sort of cross training, which could be cycling, swimming or low-impact work.
How do you know when you’ve crossed a line past tolerable pain?
It really depends on the injury. We use a symptom-based model, so if you have zero to 2 out of 10 on a pain scale, that’s a safe range, but if you find you are inching above a 2, that’s a different story.