In this week’s installment of Ask the Expert, our panel of physicians answers injury prevention questions in preparation for the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon.
Q1. I have a nagging pain in my Achilles. What are some suggestions for treating this?
Dr. Mark Drakos: Achilles tendinitis is common in runners who have tightness in their calves. It’s likely that the pain in your Achilles has come on gradually over time, and you may also feel pain when climbing stairs or after sleeping or sitting for long periods. Treatment depends on the length and severity of the symptoms. Your first strategy should be to try resting and taking anti-inflammatory medications to help quiet down the swelling. Wearing shoes that have a slight heel lift rather than flat shoes may relieve your tightness and pain.
Q2. In terms of soreness, what are some tips for recovering and feeling better?
Dr. James Wyss: Post-race recovery can be a long process that begins as soon as the race is over and ends up to several weeks later. Muscle soreness is a phenomenon that occurs when free nerve endings around muscle fibers detect noxious stimuli associated with cellular damage and breakdown following exertion. Taking the time to replenish and recuperate muscles before slowly transitioning back to regular activity will ensure a smooth recovery and increased ability to run at optimal levels later down the line.
Q3. What are the best ways to treat runner’s knee and prevent it from recurring?
Dr. Sabrina Strickland: Runner’s knee is a catch-all term for anterior knee pain, which is common in runners, particularly those who are increasing their mileage. It is felt while running, but also while walking on stairs and sometimes during prolonged sitting. The first treatment is to ice the knee, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, and cut back on running, especially on hills. Anything involving a squatting motion should also be avoided. Running in overly worn shoes can exacerbate the problem; keeping shoes up to date is a must.
Q4. Can acupuncture help with painful injuries or general soreness? Can it help improve flexibility?
Dr. Elizabeth Manejias: Acupuncture is frequently and effectively used to treat painful sports injuries, including tight or sore muscles that may result from exercise. Although there is little evidence to conclude that acupuncture can increase flexibility, it can reduce the tight and pulling sensations within a painful muscle-to-tendon attachment, allowing reduced pain in a joint and less restriction of its range of motion.
Dr. Mark Drakos is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the foot and ankle as well as sports-related injuries. He did his undergraduate work in biomedical engineering at Harvard University and received his medical degree from SUNY Stony Brook. Dr. Drakos is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and presentations involving orthopedics. He has directly provided care for high school, collegiate, professional, and Olympic athletes.
Dr. James Wyss, Physiatrist, specializes in the non-operative management and rehabilitation of common musculoskeletal and sports injuries. He has a special interest in spinal rehabilitation, interventional spine procedures, the use of ultrasound in musculoskeletal medicine, and injury prevention programs.
Dr. Sabrina Strickland is an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Women’s Sports Medicine Center and at the HSS Stamford Outpatient Center, where she treats both male and female patients. Her research has focused on anterior cruciate ligament injuries in women, as well as rotator cuff repair and shoulder instability.
Dr. Elizabeth Manejias is a physiatrist and acupuncturist at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Integrative Care Center. Professionally trained in ballet, Dr. Manejias specializes in the non-surgical care of spine, musculoskeletal, and neurological injuries, and she offers an integrative approach to the management of conditions common in the athlete and performing artist.