Every runner experiences muscle soreness now and then-usually for the first 2 or 3 days after you overdo it or try something new. Touch the muscle, it hurts. Move it, it hurts. Stretch it, it really hurts. Basically, you've asked too much of the muscle, and it's talking back to you, saying, "All right, dude, you messed with me by pushing me too hard. Now I'm going to mess with you by causing you some pain!" You should be happy when your muscles talk that way. The soreness signals the need for the body to increase its strength and resistance. It reminds you to be patient in your running program and progress gradually. That's the best way to avoid, or at least limit, sore muscles.
These unpleasant little rascals, usually on the hands (racquet sports) or feet (running), are caused when too much friction is applied to the skin. The body responds by putting fluid between the outer and inner layers of skin. Avoid blisters by choosing the right running shoes and socks. Your socks should fit snugly and wick the moisture away from your skin (damp socks on damp feet cause friction!) In vulnerable areas such as the ball of the foot and toes, apply lubrication such as Runner's Lube®, Body Glide® or Vasoline®. If you get a blister, don't pop it. The skin underneath might get infected. Instead, let it heal naturally. Cut back a little on your running. Apply lubrication, or maybe a skin-like bandage. Second Skin® and Compeed® are made especially for blisters.
A callous is a thickening of the skin in areas where there is excess friction, but not enough to cause a blister. The body responds by laying down extra layers of skin to provide a tougher surface. This is all just swell until a blister forms under the callous itself. It can happen and it's no picnic-the callous gets so big that friction develops between the tough outer layers and the more delicate layers beneath. To avoid these problems, reduce the callous occasionally with a file, pumice stone or other callous removers.
The uncomfortable irritation called chafing occurs when your clothing rubs against your skin. Runners sometimes experience chafing between the legs and under the arms. For women runners, chafing can be a problem with some sports bras. To control chafing, make sure you're running in clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin and promotes evaporation. Dry clothing is less likely to chafe than damp clothing. Lubrication can prevent and relieve discomfort in vulnerable areas. Try rubbing Runner's Lube® or Body Glide® on susceptible areas.
Side stitches aren't funny. Here's how to avoid them.
A side stitch starts as a slight irritation in the side just under the bottom rib. After a while it develops into a consistent sharp pain that interferes with your running motion and breathing. For years, no one knew what caused the side stitch, and as a result there were a lot of wild procedures for getting rid of. Scientists finally figured out that the side stitch is caused by irritation of the lining of the abdominal cavity- from too much food in your stomach, dehydration or gas. You can prevent side stitches by avoiding large meals before your workout, staying well hydrated and avoiding high-sugar foods and drinks before running.
The difference between a strain and a sprain
You often hear of athletes who "sprain" an ankle or "strain" a hamstring. Ever wonder what the difference is? The distinction lies in the difference between tendons and ligaments. Ligaments attach bones to bones. Their function is to support and stabilize joints that otherwise would be very loose. Tendons attach muscles to the bones they move. A "sprain" is a tear (it could be a slight or a major tear) in a ligament. A "strain" is a tear in a tendon or a muscle. Sprains heal slowly due to poor blood supply, and the ligaments often fail to return to their original tightness, leaving the joint susceptible to future sprains. Strains heal quicker due to greater blood supply.