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Preventing hurt Hawkeyes

BY SHELBY STITES | SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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Last season, the Hawkeyes fell short of their goals, finishing 21st in the NCAA Midwest Regional.

That finish can be attributed to many injuries to the Hawks’ top runners.

Among those runners was then-sophomore Lisa Gordon, who first suffered her a femoral stress fracture in the fall and Iliotibial band issues — a leading cause of knee pain for runners — in the winter and spring.

These injuries had Gordon watching from the sidelines for the rest of her sophomore year.

She worked with the trainers the rest of the season not only to enhance her fitness but to get her back on the course this fall.

“They were super helpful with providing me exercises that would not only strengthen what was hurt but also the muscles around it to avoid any other future injuries,” she said.

Now coming back from injury, the junior Hawkeye has been focusing on stretching, rolling out, icing, proper nutrition, and general strength to get her in the front of the pack this season.

“Our weight staff has incorporated some injury prevention into our lifting, which has been helpful,” Gordon said.

Alisa Drapeaux, the multi-site manager for Physiotherapy Associates and an Iowa graduate, specializes in sports medicine and has experience working with athletes coming off injuries.

“The best advice that I could give runners are these things: avoid training too fast, too hard, and focus on core and hip strength,” she said.

Gordon uses her rehabilitation to her advantage and doesn’t let her experience with being injured affect her on the course.

“When I was first coming back, I was very cautious not to do too much, but now that time has passed, it’s not something that I let myself worry about,” she said.

Sophomore teammates Alana Jones and Sammantha Zishka are coming back after suffering injuries for the Hawkeyes last season as well. These early season injuries affected Iowa’s cross-country team, because it could not get the best team on the course.

“We were not able to get our best team on the line after the first meet or two,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “We suffered in the results with a young team that raced without some of its best runners.”

The Hawkeyes have learned from their mistakes and now take injury prevention into effect when training for the season.

Iowa’s cross-country teams participate in recovery runs that are defined as short, slow runs undertaken after hard training. Anderson and his team have used this method in order to prevent injuries.

Other methods include having the Hawkeyes run on soft surfaces and frequent weight training.

Anderson believes that there are more ways to prevent injury than just the physical aspect of running. Patience and time in the Iowa system is a critical part. He believes that age and experience have their benefits.

This is paying off as the Hawkeyes have yet to have a serious injury this season.

“We are starting healthy, where last year we started with some aches and pains,” Anderson said.

Follow @shelbystites on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s cross-country team.


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