I returned from the Running Medicine 2014 conference in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend armed not only with new information to help runners I work with and myself become better at what we love, but a better appreciation of how complex the health and medicine fields really are and how we’re always developing new research and methods aimed at injury prevention and performance enhancement.

As always, the conference provided an amazing keynote speaker, Dr. Brad DeWeese, who recently returned from snagging medals with his Olympic bobsled teams in Sochi. He gave very motivating and engaging lectures about how to design a program for speed enhancement and the benefit of strength training for athletes as well as led a hands-on lab about Olympic lifting. Dr. DeWeese was not only enjoyable to listen to, but I walked away with a better emphasis on how important communication is not only with your athlete to gauge whether they’re responding to your program or not but also on developing good relationships with the other members of the sports medicine/performance staff.

It’s easy to forget all the other variables that make up a successful athletic program and how we must work together for the benefit of the athlete, not ourselves. So in other words, check your ego at the door, collaborate and listen.

Returning speakers and directors/co-directors of the conference, Jay Dicharry, Dr. Robert Wilder, and Eric Magrum, all provided great lectures ranging from issues with heel pain, the importance of the big toe, and developing speed and power in runners.

Dr. Francis O’Connor presented on a very interesting topic: exertional rhabdomyolysis, which unfortunately has been in the news more recently because of the use of extreme exercise, especially in a sedentary population. Dr. O’Connor provided examples of how exertional rhabdomyolysis can happen in a variety of populations ranging from the military to newbie exercisers trying to get fit fast so we must all be aware of the signs and symptoms so that we do not push our athletes to the unnecessary extreme.

Other speakers included UVA faculty Dr. Silvia Blekmer, Dr. John MacKnight, Dr. Joseph Park, and Dr. Siobhan Statuta.

The second day of the course is all about hands-on lab work and afterward, I’m always excited to use the new techniques or exercises I learned with patients, clients, and myself. If you’re a coach or health professional who works with the running population, I can’t stress enough that you should check out this conference. It’s annual, the topics and keynote speakers change every year and it’s a great place to meet other professionals for a good network to discuss topics, use as referral sources and see at the next year’s conference because many participants are repeat customers.

Overall, the 2014 event was an amazing conference. It not only provides new and exciting information every year but helps fuel the fire to get you out on the roads safely and effectively.