As spring/summer approaches in Winnipeg the weather allows for us to get out and stretch our legs. One of the best and most common ways of doing that is running.
Injuries associated with running are an unfortunate but all too common occurrence.
Understanding a running injury is the key to effective treatment.
Running involves maintenance of a specific posture with tremendous muscle exertion over a long period of time. This can lead to muscular imbalances within the body. Over time pain can develop in the foot, ankle, knee, hips, lower and upper back. Imbalances are also often noted between flexor (e.g. psoas muscle – hip flexor) and extensor muscles (e.g. gluteal muscle – hip extensor), not only in the legs but also higher up in the trunk.
* The key to good running posture is good trunk strength, (particularly the abdominal muscles) holding the body in an upright chest out position.Runners have a natural tendency to develop abdominal weakness.
If there is a biomechanical abnormality anywhere along the chain from the feet up then injures are more likely to occur. For example, overpronation is where the arch of the foot collapses, or the ankle rolls inwards as you walk. This can cause added stress on the Achilles tendon, medial (inner) side of the knee and the lower back resulting in pain and disability.
The same can be said from the top down. A gluteal (butt muscle) contraction on one side compared to the opposing side can cause relative external rotation of the leg (foot points outward) resulting in added stress on the hip joint, medial (inner) side of the knee and the inner side of the foot.
Saco-iliac joint problems in the lower back can also limit normal motion needed for biomechanics when running resulting in lower back pain and an altered running stride.
Tips for reducing running related injuries and maintaining good biomechanical function:
- Good motion in ankle, knee and low back joints as well as the upper back joints
- Have good arch support and comfortable shoes especially if you are running on concrete surfaces
- Balanced strength between your quadriceps (front of thigh) and hamstring (back of thigh) muscles
- Good gluteal (butt muscle) pliability
- Good abdominal strength
- Postural training exercises
If you are having any pain before, during or after running make sure you have it checked out before it becomes a bigger problem.
Stay tuned for the next blog update: Does stretching before exercise reduce the risk of injury?
Dr. Jason Stevens B.Sc. D.C
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