I can’t wear flip-flops?!?

Went to a foot/ankle injury prevention series last night at TrySports. They had Carolina Sports Clinic doctor Joshua Kollman talk to us about conservative care – that starts before we feel the injury. Dr. Kollman is not just a doctor – he’s also completed an Ironman. So he certainly knows what we are going through as runners.

The foot/ankle/knee/hip are all connected. Often when we have troubles with one part it is connected to another – with the hip being the most important. I find this interesting as I have battled with hip, knee, and ankle issues. I’m listening!

I won’t go into all of it – I’m sure most of the stuff I learned can be found in more official online capacities, but I’ll touch on a few points that I think fellow runners might want to pay attention to:

= Stand on one leg, with the other leg at a 90 degree angle. Look at your knees. Are they wobbling? Try doing a squat with the one leg in that position. Can’t do it without teetering all over the place? That’s ok, none of us at the clinic were very graceful with this either. But that’s a picture, in slow motion, of what our knees are doing while we’re running. If they are wobbly, practice doing that move in front of a mirror. It will help with your stride.

= Use The Stick. Use it twice a day. I have one, and I admit I don’t use it as much as I should. He said if you only have a few minutes, make sure to get the quads, the calves, and the side of the thigh (where IT band issues occur).

= The most important thing I learned: Runners should not wear flip-flops. No, not even Rainbows. Anything without a strap on our heels make us curl up our toes to keep the shoe on. When we curl up our toes, we risk getting plantar fasciitis – a common foot injury runners get. So if we are running and wearing flip-flops, we are on the fast track. I’ll trade my Rainbows for my Tevas, pronto!

We did get to chat with him after the session about our individual issues. I talked to him about my knee and my ankle, and he had me jump up and down on one leg (the ankle hurt one). Since it hurt when I landed, and not as I left the ground, it rules out tendinitis. Could be a stress fracture. But for now I am running on it and he said it’s not time to come make an appointment with him yet – he said to “stick it out” (a term I first heard from Jenny) and to use ice and soft-tissue massage (I like that part!)

Kevin talked to him too, about his shin splints. We are 9 weeks away from the marathon. Kevin hasn’t run since his triathlon at Cane Creek Park, one week after he was part of an ultra team for the Blue Ridge Relay. He’s feeling better, thinking about trying to start running again this weekend. Here’s the jaw-dropping advice from Josh: In the remaining 9 weeks, Kevin should focus on ramping up to one long run. One, folks. Not nine like the rest of us. That is a huge difference. And it was a big indicator to me how serious injuries really are.

Next session focuses on the knee, and the one after that touches on the hip. I’ll let you know what else I learn!