Returning to Running, Preventing Typical Problems (Plantar Fascia, Shin Splints, etc.) and Physiotherapy Awareness Month
Your next run awaits!
Physiotherapy awareness marks the month of May. Physiotherapy is a tried and true process, with benefits that are undeniable. From back pain to sports injuries, post-surgical rehab to pregnancy related pain, physiotherapy is a profession that has literally “touched” the lives of millions. With physiotherapy being ranked as one of “The 10 Happiest Jobs” around, it’s easy to see why, because the results it produces are so tangible.
This month we will tackle the topic of running. One of the great parts of being a Physio is getting involved in community events. Skye Health will be providing race day coverage for the MEC Series of races in London. The MEC Race series 2019 is an inexpensive and fun to get out on the road and trail (see below for details).
A natural sport, requiring little more than a good pair of shoes and a stretch of road or trail, running is loved by many and its enthusiasts are found all over the world. Some run to feel the thrill and accomplishment of completing marathons. Others run to keep up their health or to experience the psychological benefits that come from running. The health benefits of running are overwhelmingly positive, with research showing a decreased risk for heart problems, cancer, and diabetes and studies show it can actively combat mental decline and symptoms of depression. What’s not to love? Done right, it’s a great form of exercise. However, some have experienced running injuries or are concerned about the possibility of injuries as they get older. This article will discuss what can be done to prevent or address some typical running problems.
Common Running Related Injuries
Did you lose your joy in running? Have you taken a prolonged break, perhaps because of an injury? You’re certainly not alone; it’s estimated that up to 79 percent of runners are injured every year. Running injuries are most often related to overuse or prolonged pressure to certain areas of the body, an imbalance of muscles, weakness in certain muscles, rapidly increased mileage, or poor running form. Here is a list of some commonly seen running injuries:
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, or runner’s knee, is pain experienced behind or near the kneecap.
- Pain felt on the bottom or arch of the foot due to inflammation of the plantar fascia.
- Pain felt on the back of the ankle, where the heel connects to the lower leg muscles, known as the Achilles tendon.
- Sharp, aching pain in the shins due to inflammation in the muscles and tendons over the shin bones.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
- Sharp pain felt in the hip down to the outside of the knee. This pain is due to inflammation of the iliotibial band that stretches from the pelvic bone down to the thigh and knee.
- This pain results from inflammation or tiny tears to the patellar tendon which connects the knee to the shin bone.
- Runner’s most often experience strains in the calves or hamstring muscles.
A Return to Running
Any one of those injuries can force a once avid runner to put their shoes in the closet for a week or sometimes for much longer. The good news is that most running injuries respond well to conservative treatment, like that seen in physiotherapy. Therefore, it’s very important to follow up with a physiotherapist following any painful injury. A thorough evaluation can provide insight into a particular injury and reveal other weak areas of the body. Based on this evaluation, targeted exercises to rehabilitate the injured area can be suggested.
Even if it’s not an injury, but say, advancing age, a physiotherapist can provide helpful advice to keep a person running longer and stronger, in spite of age and previous injuries. Here are some top tips to help runners:
Take your Time
- Taking time off for an injury is important, but it also means that you need to respect that time your body needed and not expect to pick up where you left off. Your pre-injury volume training may need to be decreased and the ease of your workouts may need to be adjusted accordingly. Ease into higher intensity and frequency runs. That means you may need to start off with brisk walks and graduate up to walk/run sessions. In addition to treating injury, Physiotherapists can create a return to running program to get you back on track safely.
Incorporate Strength Training
- Running alone does not provide sufficient muscle building to remain injury free. One study showed that between the ages of 20 and 80 there is a 50% decrease in calf muscle mass and strength, concentric ankle power, and tendon stiffness. The seemingly natural decline in muscle function due to age or previous injuries can be abated through effective strength training such as weight lifting and other cross training activities such as cycling, water jogging, Pilates, or Yoga to name a few.
Maintain Good Form
- Good running form starts with good posture, an upright back with the head up and eyes looking forward. To avoid landing on the heels, shorter strides are encouraged with the aim of landing midfoot and rolling through the toes. The arms should be at a 90 degree angle at waist level with relaxed hands. If it seems like too much to think about, here is an excellent exercise called the 100-Up:
- Minor: Start in a standing position with bare feet in parallel positions 8 inches apart (you can put tape to mark your spots). While maintaining the back in a straight position, lift one knee up to hip level while driving the elbow on the same side back. Lower the knee, landing midfoot.
- Repeat on the other side for a count of 100.
- Major: Repeat the same action as the minor but with simultaneous switching of the legs. When one foot touches the ground, the opposite knee should pop up, etc. It is basically running in place.
- Repeat for a count of 100.
Don’t forget to warm up/Prehab
- Dynamic stretching, or exercises that mimic your workout, can aid in warming up the muscles and loosening up your joints pre-run. Try forward and backwards leg swings, knee ups, toe running and strides etc. A Physiotherapist can guide you in a Dynamic Warm-up program and provide a Prehab (injury prevention) program for after running including myofascial release with a roller or ball, stretches, and recovery tools.
It’s time to set a new PB goal or finally get those running shoes out of the closet. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Just look at Ed Whitlock, Canadian Distance runner who re-wrote the record books by running a sub-3-hour marathon at 70 years old, forever changing our perceptions of running as we age! Our physiotherapists at Skye Health can help you work through old injuries and new uninvited pains.
Your next run awaits!
The Skye Health Crew
MEC Race Series 2019
May 25: St. Julien Park 5K/ 10K/ 21.1K/ 42.2K Road
Sept 7: Fanshawe Conservation Area 5K/ 10K/ 15K/ Road; 6K/ 12K/ 21.1K Trail
Oct 19: Gibbons Park 5K/ 10K/ 15K Road; 5K/ 10K Trail