There is no guaranteed way to prevent injury when prepping for a marathon. Muscles get tired, they pull on joints and all kinds of problems may be incurred. It pays to incorporate manual sports therapy into your training.
Depending on your time, health benefits and/or financial situation, you can get treatments as often as once weekly or as infrequently as once a month. If you are unable to get regular therapy, then at least be sure to see a health -care practitioner, especially if you feel acute pain or a nagging ache that lasts more than a few days.
I have successfully used all of the therapies listed below as a coach and an athlete. When looking for treatments, it's best to ask fellow runners for referrals. I have found chiropractors to be the most accessible and appreciate that these appointments are fairly brief, suitable to my schedule. See what works best for you.
Chiropractors It's best to find one who often works with runners so they have experience with the typical issues we face. Chiropractors treat back and joint problems through corrective manipulation. Many of them are also certified in ART (Active Release Technique), an efficient way to relax soft tissue, primarily muscle and fascia.
Registered Massage Therapists Aaaah massages. Is that what you're thinking? Not me – I like torture! Massages can be the relaxing kind, with little muscle penetration, or, as I prefer, the therapeutic kind, where work is done at a deeper level. A full body massage can take as long as 90 minutes, but if you're in a pinch, you can have the RMT work on key running muscles like the mid/lower back, buttocks and legs in less than an hour.
Osteopaths I will never forget my first visit to an osteopath in Oakville, Ont. I had chronic Achilles problems and somehow he cured the issue by barely touching the tendon. How that worked remains a mystery to me, but it did the trick. Osteopaths use a combination of techniques to promote healing and to return the body to normal function.
Physiotherapists PTs also use methods to promote healing in the body, but usually the athlete does more work than just lie on the table. PTs will provide some treatment but they give patients a number of exercises to perform at home. It's an ideal treatment for the do-it-yourself type athlete.
Acupuncture Discovered more than 2,500 years ago, acupuncture uses needles at various points in the body to reduce pain and swelling and encourage healing. Some of the above specialists may be certified in acupuncture so you can get a one-stop-shop treatment.
Nicole Stevenson is a running coach and the ninth-fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history. She is a long-time competitor in the Canada Running Series.