Boston Children’s Running Program hosts seminar

If your child—young or old—aspires to be a runner, the Runner’s Program at Boston Children’s can help them get off on the right foot. The Sports Medicine experts that will help your child also deliver the same world-class care to world-class athletes at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

We all know that running is a great way for kids to get exercise and have fun, but since 35 to 75 percent of runners each year need medical treatment for running-related injuries, running safely is important. Pierre d’Hemecourt, MD of Boston Children’s Division of Sports is presenting at the Runners’ Seminar Series for the Boston Marathon, and talks to us about Children’s Running Program, which helps runners of all ages run as safely as possible.

The Running Program mainly focuses on best practices and injury prevention tools for kids, high school and college athletes, as well as adults.

“We want to encourage running,” says d’Hemecourt, “but in doing so, we want to show runners how they can prevent injuries and stay healthy.” The program’s plan does just that, and when a patient comes in for an appointment, they go through four 15-minute stations of clinical help.

The first station analyzes a person’s gait—or the way a person walks and runs. Patients wear their normal running attire, and their walking and running movements are videotaped from the rear and from the side for later examination.  “When we watch it in slow motion, we can really see the subtle opportunities for change in the runner’s movements so we know what to focus on,” says d’Hemecourt.

At the second station, the patient’s feet are examined for any problems that might cause injuries. The clinician looks again at the gait, then at the toes and arches to make recommendations on how to safely practice based on that individual’s physiology.

The next station observes the patient’s strength, flexibility and biomechanics. The doctor pays special attention to tightness and looseness in places like the Achilles tendon, hip flexors, hamstrings and the pelvic and gluteal areas, then recommends specific strengthening and flexibility regimens.

Lastly, the patient enters the nutrition station. “Many runners have misperceptions about when to fuel, refuel and what to fuel on,” says d’Hemecourt. “So we break it down so they know how to adequately fuel before, during and after a run.”

“We want to encourage running, but in doing so, we want to show runners how they can prevent injuries and stay healthy.”

A similar program exists to study injured runners’ bodies and movements to get them back on track. Common injuries for these runners include shin splints, stress fractures and back pain. “Recognizing an injury is easy,” says d’Hemecourt, “but treating it in a preventive way from coming back without biomechanical issues takes work.” d’Hemecourt and other experts at the Injured Runner’s Clinic work to help runners not only get better, but to stay better.

The Runner’s Seminar Series at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston will gather Boston Marathon participants this weekend, April 14 and 15, to learn about all aspects of running, including injury prevention. Boston Children’s Lyle Micheli, MD, director of the Division of Sports Medicine, will moderate on Saturday, and more experts will discuss complexities of running:

  • Kathryn Ackerman, MD, MPH, will speak about special considerations for the female runner (April 14, 4 p.m.).
  • Pierre d’Hemecourt, MD, will talk about how to avoid medical problems while running a marathon (April 15, 10 a.m.).
  • Thomas Vorderer, DPM, will discuss the biomechanics of running injuries (April 15, noon).
  • David Popoli, MD will present on considerations for adaptive sports athletes, including physiology, participation and prevention (April 15, 4 p.m.).

Children’s doctors will be at the medical tent at the Boston Marathon’s finish line, ready to help runners recover. But even if your child isn’t quite ready to take on 26.2 miles, he or she can benefit from the multi-faceted approach of the Boston Children’s’ Runner’s Program. To learn more about the Running Program, read Frequently Asked Questions.

See you at the finish line!