Thousands of runners will make their way from Hopkinton to Boylston Street in Boston Monday as part of the 119th running of the Boston Marathon.
For these runners, Monday is the day they have been looking forward to, as they have trained for months with the 26.2 miles on their mind — many even fighting through injuries along the way.
But what if injuries were never even a concern?
That is what The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention in Waltham has been doing for runners since opening its doors two years ago.
“The concept is an athlete comes into the center and depending on the sports they play — anywhere from two or four hours with us and we measure everything that is related to the risk of sports injury,” said Dr. William P. Meehan III, the Director of the Micheli Center for Sports Injury prevention, via phone last week. “From the shape of their bones and the angles they make. Range of motion of their joints. Strength and endurance. Flexibility. How they train. Howmany hours a week they train. Sleep patterns. At the end of the assessment they get a print out of the injuries they are at highest risk for and then the prescription of how they can reduce those injuries.”
Most of their clients are – in fact – runners, as they have had over 500 runners come through the center, totaling over 3,000 appointments. Dr. Meehan noted they saw a boom around January and February with their training getting underway.
The majority of injuries for runners, particularly marathon runners, are because of overuse. Dr. Meehan and his staff work with their patients to best prevent these types of wear-and-tear injuries from happening.
“Running is unique as a sport because the risk is higher for overuse injuries than acute injuries,” Dr. Meehan said. “Acute injuries are sort of just cutting in one direction and a move might have torn an ACL and that is uncommon in long distance running. Running is repetitive micro trauma over the course of hours while you train. Marathoners are at particular risk for this because they run for so long and they run so many more miles than a person running a 10k or a 5k. It turns out the way you run — your technique and where your muscles are strong and weak, and your flexibility can affect the risk of those repetitive overuse injuries.”
A few trips to the center can work toward eliminating these injuries, making things much easier over the course ofthe training process.
As for what is next for the center, in just its second year, they would like to expand and have even more clients.
“Right now people pay out of pocket and from a research perspective if we can show that it is cheaper to prevent these injuries than treat them after they occur our hope is insurance companies will cover it so that it will be easier for people to come in,” Dr. Meehan said. “We are a non-profit, so we want to expand, but only as a non-profit so maybe other medical centers across the country would sponsor it.”