Doctor provides tips for avoiding post bridge run difficulty

By Victoria

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- When more than 40,000 runners hit the bridge Saturday, many will do so for the first time.

"What makes the Cooper River Bridge Run so different is the percentage of brand new or beginner runners," Dr. Carl D. Geier said. He's an orthopedic surgeon and the Director of MUSC Sports Medicine. "A huge percent barely run at all and are out of shape. That's the group that's going to finish that race struggling."

If you run frequently, you know the basics of caring for your body before and after a race. But, many newbies don't.

"Hydration is key," Dr. Geier said.

He recommends drinking small amounts frequently in the weeks leading up to the 10k run.

"People who are somewhat out of shape are going to cramp. The idea is to not get in a deficit in the first place."

If you are still training, Dr. Geier says mix it up. Don't run too often or too long. Try another kind of cardio that doesn't involve repetitive impact on your legs.

"They'll be pounding more on their feet and ankles than they ever have, and that can lead to stress fractures," Dr. Geier said.

Tempted to buy some fancy, new running shoes to show off? Dr. Geier says don't, at least not too close to the race. They could give you blisters or just be uncomfortable.

"You typically need new shoes every six months, or every 500 miles," he said.

What should you eat, especially the night before?

"Everybody makes such a big deal bout carb loading. It's not important unless you are an elite runner or marathoner," Dr. Geier said. "The key is to eat well-balanced meals the week before. Don't eat a bunch of junk the night before, and don't drink alcohol."

The day of the race, get your body moving before you stretch. Hold the stretch, don't bounce. Make sure you get your hamstrings, quads, calves and hips.

Once you start running, be aware of the crowd around you.

"The other kind of big thing with the Cooper River Bridge Run is the problem with tripping and falling," Dr. Geier said. "It's really crowded. People my fall in front of you. "

When you cross the finish line, don't stop. Dr. Geier says keep walking or jogging. Let your body cool down.

Okay, so you've done all of the above, but something just doesn't feel right after the race. Dr. Geier says elevate it and ice it. Get the swelling down. If it doesn't go away, see your doctor.

One last piece of advice.

"A cold beer may sound good after that long run, but don't do it," Dr. Geier said.

Drink plenty of water before you even think about it.

* Before returning to ABC News 4 several years ago, Victoria Hansen worked for 10 years at WKRN-TV, the ABC affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee. While there she won several Emmy awards for both anchoring and reporting. She has also been honored with awards from the Associated Press and the Radio Television News Association. MORE INFO