The marathoner and all of us have something in common; when we do activities to the extreme, we all have pain. Running a marathon is a grueling event and it stresses the entire body. The whole body often is sore afterwards, both physically and mentally. The best trained athletes are even sore after this event. The weekend athlete and the rest of us often suffer from similar pain when we do too much of an activity that we are not used to performing.
A marathon runner will have pain after a run for a number of reasons. Most will have muscle soreness in the legs from build up of lactose and from some muscle strain. Ice, heat, fluids, and over-the counter medications will take care of symptoms. Joint pain may also be present for the repetitive bounding of pavement. Again, this pain should disappear in several days as the body heals itself. In general, all pain should resolve within days. If there is an isolated area of pain, sometimes a more severe injury has occurred and further medical evaluation and treatment may be necessary.
The weekend warriors suffer from similar issues. Spring yard work is the classic example of people stressing out the body. We rake the yard for hours, lift bags of dirt, move heavy rocks, and kneel in the garden. Then we exercise for several hours and wonder why we hurt the next day. The simple answer is we strained muscles and irritated joints that were not prepared to do that level of activity. The treatment is the same as it is for marathoners; short term rest, ice, heat, fluids, and if necessary, over-the-counter medications for several days. Rarely, do we strain or injure something bad enough to need medical attention.
Preventing injury is the most important concept to remember whether you are a marathoner or weekend warrior. The marathoner needs to train for long distances, gradually increasing time and distant travelled. The weekend warrior needs to learn to pace themselves with activities. Do not try to get everything done in one short amount of time. Split up the tasks that need to be done. As one would say, stop and smell the roses. Take your time and you will not hurt yourself.
The long winter is over and we all want to get out and get active. Take it one step at a time. Try to remember to pace yourself through all those tasks that need to get done. It will all get done, just take your time and enjoy the journey. Have some fun, and there will be a lot less pain and you will still get to the end of the line.
Thomas Cohn, MD
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