Happy Sunday! I hope you are having a fabulous weekend. I’ll have more details about mine tomorrow because today, I want to talk about something we don’t really think about as runners: concussions.
We don’t tackle other people in our sport, nor do we have to worry about colliding with other runners (well, unless you are an elite, and then it’s a very real thing). Because of this, concussions are not really thought of as a prime injury for runners but they can and DO happen.
Because we do fall from time to time.
[oh hey awesome cut from falling in the woods at my first trail half marathon]
We challenge ourselves to longer distances, harder courses and everything in between… which can be hard for our muscles to keep up and can result in falls and a risk for injury.
With that in mind, I’m excited to share with you an interview about runners and concussions that I did with Dr. Don Teig, who serves as the conference co-chairman for the Ultimate Concussion Conference that will be held this October in Hollywood, FL.
Runners and Concussions
Hot summer weather can be dangerous to runners. What are some symptoms that runners should pay attention to in order to avoid a fall/concussion?
First of all, before I say anything, the mantra should always be, “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!” before and while you run. That being said; light headedness, loss of focus and attention, zoning out as a result of difficulties with concentration, fatigue, confusion are all warning signs of dehyration which can lead to a fall and potentially a concussion.
For trail runners, trips and falls can be quite common. Are there any techniques they can follow to avoid falling on their head?
Always anticipate changes in the terrain several feet ahead of you to avoid mishaps. Try not to be distracted by peripheral stimuli. Keep your eyes focused centrally.
If a runner does fall and hit their head while running, what are some symptoms that could indicate a concussion? What should they do?
My professional bias as an eye care professional strongly emphasizes the role that vision plays in producing symptoms from concussions. These include but are not exclusively limited to double vision (diplopia), an inability to bring your eyes in focus at near (poor accommodation), light sensitivity (photophobia), erratic eye tracking movements (oculomotor dysfunction) when asked to follow a moving object (like a pencil point held about 16’ away from your eyes), a sudden awareness of increasingly blurry vision, and reduced visual-motor reaction time (for example reaching for an object or avoiding an obstacle in one’s path.)
Also headache, nausea and vomiting, balance difficulties and numbness and tingling in the extremities are physical symptoms that may occur. Mental confusion may be observed. People who have been concussed will sometimes be unable to tell you their date of birth or a sequence of numbers or letters that you say to them.
If a runner does have a concussion, are there any symptoms in the future that they should be aware of and what should they do?
In addition to a recurrence of the symptoms listed above, pay special attention to recurrent headaches, concentration issues and mental errors.
How can runners prevent a fall or concussion from occurring?
Stay focused when running and avoid distractions. Like any sport, undivided attention at the athletic challenge at hand prevents accidents.
Thanks, Dr. Teig! Hope his tips help keep you on your feet and aware of what can happen if you do fall and get a concussion.
What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had on the run? Have you ever had a concussion?
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