The place to find holistic information about your health

Runner Jay Holder On Injury Prevention


Jay Holder Marathoner

You don’t need a medical degree to see me running and know I get injured a lot. I’m not a pretty runner. My arms swing wide. One of my feet kicks out. My head bobs. I’m far from the picture of bio-mechanical perfection.

Since college my clunky, uneven form has been the root source of a lot of unplanned time away from running and time spent on the elliptical machine, in the pool and just generally feeling sorry for myself with a beer and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I’ve become an expert on injuries for all the wrong reasons. Here’s an abbreviated list of those reasons: Stress fractures (fibia, tibula), tendinitis (hamstring, patella, quadriceps), IT Band Syndrome (the worst), Quadratus lumborum strain and too many rolled ankles to count.

Despite all that, I like how I run. I can always pick myself out of crowd in race photos. I’m the guy who looks like I’m auditioning for the chase scene of a Halloween chainsaw massacre movie; flailing through the masses like there’s a deranged man with a chainsaw behind me.Through the years people have offered to help me change my gait. They have good intentions and their techniques are based on actual research. But going out there and consciously trying to alter the way my body wants to move has never worked for or appealed to me. It feels foreign and besides thinking about your footfalls and your arm swings takes the joy out of any jaunt.

Yet, I’ve spent the past two years free of a major injury even while running 60-90 miles per week. How did I do it? The best strategy for me has been changing habits instead of forcing myself to run differently in one fell swoop. By routinely exercising and strengthening weak muscles and increasing flexibility through drills, some of my bio-mechanical imperfections gradually corrected themselves. Of course, first I had to find out which drills would fix my specific issues. It’s not a one-size fits all approach so I didn’t want to rely on Google. Instead, through the advice of a friend and runner I respect and trust, I went to see Dr. Emily Kiberd at the Urban Wellness Clinic. She and the team spent hours assessing my imbalances and prescribing exactly the right homework to address my needs. The deal is they spend the time explaining the exercises and I spend the time actually doing them.

That’s the hard part. To find the time, you have to be creative. I’ve done bridges while drinking my morning coffee (or evening beer), planks on conference calls and used the resistance band at my desk. Being inventive beats being injured.

I didn’t figure this out until I was 30 and perhaps that’s because the older I get, the more important it is to listen to my body. When I was 20, I could go to bed with a sore knee and wake up as good as new. Now, if I go to bed with a sore knee I might not get out of bed in the morning without assistance.

It’s never too late or too early to start taking these extra steps. Injury-prone now or not, it will add miles to your years.

Jay Holder

By day, a television news producer for @ABC7NY 11pm News in the fast-paced city of New York. By night (or early morning), I’m a competitive runner training to set P.R.s in everything from the 5K to the Marathon. Check out his Rules of running NYC here:

Twitter musings: @jauntingjourno