Doctor: Simple stretching can avoid severe injuries

Doctor: Simple stretching can avoid severe injuries

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ATLANTA -

Three years ago, Jessica Daugherty went for a run – and, she never looked back. She says she fell in love with the sport.

Soon, she says she was running two, five and up to even 10 or 15 miles at a time. Over time, the 36-year-old lost 140 pounds.

Then, however, some serious pain set in when Jessica went on a run last December.

Jessica says a big reason was that she really didn't take time to stretch before or after she ran. It led to a common problem experienced by runners: IT band syndrome.

"I started to feel a tightness on the outside of my knee," she said. " I stopped and stretched. I thought it was a little cramping.  I started to run again and I had to hobble the last four miles back to my car."

Jessica says she thought she pulled a muscle, or suffered a stress fracture. Every time she ran more than a few miles, her knee burned.

"It was very sad, and at one point on a run, I cried because I love running and to not be able to do that anymore was heartbreaking," she said.

She sought the Emory Orthopedic and Spine Center for help. Dr. Amadeus Mason diagnosed her with Iliotibial Band or ITB syndrome."

An overuse injury the doctor says he sees in a lot of new runners.

"Because what happens is they're happy to be out there running and it feels good that first time, and then they want to get very aggressive, and get fit very quickly," Dr. Mason said. "And, they start doing too much too soon."

Jessica said, "I never stretched. I was running two miles and would barely stretch."

Dr. Mason recommended physical therapy to teach Jessica how to stretch and strengthen her legs. After months of work, she's a stretcher and a runner again.

Jessica said, "Knowledge is power, and now that I know better, I will do better."

She says she's back to running half marathons and says she'll never again overlook the power of a good stretch.

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