COLUMBUS, Ohio – You may
never have heard them referred to as “endurance athletes,” but chances are you
know one. They’re cyclists, swimmers and runners who participate in sports that
require almost constant training; and from bicycle races to 5k runs to
marathons, their numbers are booming.
“There are now more
runners and endurance athletes out there than any other recreational sport,”
said Dr. Timothy Miller of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Because of that, we see very specific
kinds of injuries that are, for the most part, just related to them.”
To meet the medical
needs of this rapidly growing group, Ohio State’s Sports Medicine has created one of the first programs in
the country dedicated solely to endurance sports.
“They aren’t like other
athletes. Because of the nature of their sports, they have to train
constantly and even a minor injury can take a heavy toll, especially if it’s
not treated properly from the outset,” Miller said.
When dealing with injuries
to endurance athletes, Miller uses everything from cross training to high-tech
movement analysis to underwater treadmills. Overuse accounts for most of the
injuries Miller sees in endurance athletes, mainly sprains and stress
A serious stress
fracture in a foot was the injury that had the potential to derail the training
regimen of Olympic hopeful Korbin Smith. A surgical repair might have sidelined
him for months and put his Olympic dreams in serious jeopardy.
“You can go about it
aggressively off the get-go. You can have surgery immediately, but not everyone
wants to have a permanent pin or plate in their foot,” Smith said.
In order to heal his
injured foot while inhibiting his training as little as possible, Smith turned
to Dr. Miller and his endurance medicine team. They allowed Smith to continue
running – under water, using a special treadmill and pool.
“I did a lot of
aqua-jogging, which is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Smith
said. He said it was important for him to work with a medical team that
specializes both in sports medicine and endurance sports, because they
understand his situation and can relate.
In addition to their
physical injuries, Miller said endurance athletes can also suffer from
depression when their training is disrupted, so counseling is an important part
of the healing process.
“It can be very
difficult, not only physically, but also mentally,” he said. “We have services
that we provide here at Ohio State that are also for mental conditioning prior
to endurance events.”
Another key focus of
endurance medicine is using high-tech computer analysis to pinpoint movement
issues and help the athlete correct these issues to prevent further injuries.
“I think that’s what
makes us special in general, is that we not only focus on the treatment of the
actual injury, we also focus on the education of the athlete and help them
prevent injury down the road,” Miller said.
Contact: Bob Mackle, Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and
Media Relations, 614-293-3737, or firstname.lastname@example.org