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Get Ready to Race with stretches and tips from Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Wasik Ashraf

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You have trained and worked very hard to prepare for this upcoming race!  Before the big race, you’ll want to prepare your body and put all that training to use. Dr. Wasik Ashraf, Orthopedic Surgeon and Sport Medicine Specialist at Crystal Run Healthcare offers some advice to help you perform at your peak!

Not Too Fast!

If you’ve caught the running bug, you could be heading for a 5K, obstacle course race, or maybe even a marathon. It’s important to remember all throughout your training and during the race that your body has limits. There’s a difference between pushing yourself and pushing your limits; pushing your limits too far may result in an injury and a trip to see an orthopedic specialist! So, pay attention to the signs from your body and don’t push it too far.

Training for the Race

The length of the race will determine how long you’ll need to train for the event. Say you’re checking a full marathon off your bucket list, training programs range anywhere from 12-20 weeks depending on your physical fitness level. The goal of your training is to reach the length of the race and then, after consistently completing the distance, work on increasing your pace.

Stretching Before & After Workouts

Warming up your muscles before your workouts and cooling them down after is a crucial part of safely preparing for your race.

Although it seems like the lower half of your body is doing most of the work, it’s important to stretch your whole body. A great way to ensure you stretch your whole body is to start at the top and work your way down!

Try doing the stretches below at least 10 times on each side before your run, you should increase the amount of stretches as needed if you still feel tightness in your muscles.

  • Neck Stretches
    • Move your neck in a circular motion and then reverse in the opposite direction
    • Move your neck forwards, backwards and then side to side
  • Shoulder Stretches
    • Shrug your shoulders high towards your ear lobes  and rotate them in circles and then reverse directions  
  • Arm Stretches
    • Outstretch one arm and reach it straight across the opposite side of your body; repeat on the other side
    • Bend your arm at the elbow and reach over your shoulder on the same side, pressing down on the elbow
    • Outstretch both arms and make small circular motions; reverse in opposite direction
  • Hip & Leg Stretches
    • Bend your leg at the knee and circle your bent knee outwards to stretch your hip flexors; switch legs
    • Lunge to each side, with your knee remaining in-line with your ankle and your other leg remaining straight; switch sides
    • Start standing with both legs together and then take a large step to lunge one leg forward; keeping your front knee over your ankle, bring your back knee almost to the floor. Repeat with the other leg
    • Sit on the ground with your legs straight in a V shape, lean forward and try to bring your back to the ground. One at a time, bring your leg in to meet the side of your thigh, reach to touch the toes of your straight leg, then switch legs.
  • Plyometrics
    • Activities such as high knees, ski-jumps, box jumps, and other forms of plyometrics can help you warm up your muscles and elevate your heart rate before going out for a run.       

THE WEEK LEADING UP TO THE RACE

Leading up to the race, make sure you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet.  You should avoid eating large, hard to digest meals and instead eat carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and potatoes.  Also remember, being well-hydrated is key, so you’ll want to consume plenty of fluids.  Adequate hydration will boost your performance and recovery and can help  decrease soreness after the race.  At the same time, do not over hydrate.  Drinking 4-8 ounces of water each hour usually works well.  Do not drink alcohol the day before the race, as it can lead to dehydration. 

Aside from being hydrated, you should:

  • Taper Your Workout

Tapering, or reducing the amount of running you’re doing, prior to the run can be very unnerving.  The taper is designed to let your body  refresh, rebuild and get ready for the race.  Try to enjoy the taper and begin to focus mentally on  the upcoming race!

  • Prep for the Day 

Your muscles may be ready to run, but  mental preparation is also important. Start packing for the race early to avoid getting caught up with the chaos of last minute packing! Be sure to check the weather the day of the race and dress appropriately for any weather changes that may occur.

  • Set Your Sights on the Finish Line

Set a goal that you want to achieve on race day.  Work to maintain a positive attitude during  training and leading up to your race.  A positive  attitude can keep you on the right track!

ON RACE DAY

  • Have a balanced breakfast in the morning approximately 3-4 hours prior to the race.  Try to stick to the same breakfast you have been eating during the training process, now is not the time to try eat or drink anything new. 
  • As you get dressed for the race, remember not to dress too warm. With the excitement of the race your heart rate will be slightly higher than normal which would lead to your body warming up earlier. 
  • Get to the event on time, warmup and stretch. 

Running is a great form of exercise and can be a very rewarding experience. If you prepare your body for the race it can help prevent injuries during training and during the run. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun!

 

Wasik Ashraf, DO, is an Orthopedic Surgeon and Fellowship-trained Sports Medicine Specialist at Crystal Run Healthcare.  He earned his Medical Degree from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, NY and completed his Residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at North Shore - LIJ Plainview Hospital in Plainview, NY and Peninsula Hospital Consortium in Far Rockaway, NY.  Dr. Ashraf completed Fellowship-training in Sports Medicine from The Hughston Clinic at The Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital in Columbus, GA. He is Board Certified in Orthopedic Surgery and sees patients in Monroe and New Windsor.