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Chiropractic for Runners - Common Running Injuries and Prevention

It's no secret running is an attractive and practical exercise because it offers so many immediate benefits. Whether outside on the street or indoors on a treadmill, running is a very popular cardio exercise, as it can be performed just about anywhere. The rhythmic motion of the legs keeps the lower body toned and enormous amounts of calories get burned. Running engages respiratory system, and the cardiovascular system is kept in tune. Many people even become addicted to the endorphins that get released in the brain after a certain amount of time spent running, which results in what is known as “runners high”.

Unfortunately the other side of the coin for runners carries almost an equal amount of disadvantages. This stress on the musculoskeletal system often leads to injuries of the knees, ankles, and hips. There’s really no way of avoiding these injuries if running is a large part the exercise regimen, and all runners will eventually hurt their musculoskeletal system in some way.

Luckily, chiropractic therapy can assist in healing injured muscles, joints, and bones. Chiropractic therapy has been shown to be highly effective in getting runners back up on their feet and feeling less pain than more traditional methods.

Below are the most common running injuries we see in our office...

Hip and low back pain:

Runners may experience pain in the lower back and hips during or after a run once they have cooled down. The pain is commonly caused by the pelvis being out of alignment which creates nerve pressure, muscular imbalances, and changed is the runner’s gait. Not only can this lead to more severe back pain but it can also make the runner more likely to injure other joints in the lower body as well.

Runner’s knee (Patella-Femoral Pain Syndrome):

Irritation of the knee cap on the thigh bone resulting in sharp pain around the knee. Caused by increased angle between thigh and the lower leg, over pronation of the foot, poorly conditioned muscles of the lower leg and in some cases the shape of the back of the knee cap compared to the groove it sits in.

ITB syndrome:

Overuse injury of the iliotibial band causing inflammation. Usually more common with repeated inward motion of the knee (for example over pronation or running on banked surfaces/track in one direction).

Plantar fasciitis:

Pain in the bottom of the foot and/or arch. Worse in the morning with first step and dissipates with use. Due to increased pressure in the foot, decreased cushioning in heel, biomechanical issues (over pronation/over supination), over training and tight calf muscle. Heel spurring can develop over time as a response to the pain.

Shin splints:

Shin splints is a catch-all term for lower leg pain. It causes inflammation and pain in the muscle in the lower leg. Can be due to abrupt changes in workout routine, biomechanical issues (over pronation) and muscle tightness. More serious causes of lower leg pain need to be ruled out such as anterior compartment syndrome or stress fractures.

Stress fracture:

Tiny crack in bone that develops with increasing demands on the body that cannot be met by the muscle and bone.

Injury Prevention:

  • Most common cause of running injuries is doing too much, too soon and too fast.

  • Follow 10% rule: build your weekly distance by no more than 10% per week. 10% maybe too aggressive for some and they should try 5%.

  • Utilize dynamic warm up and cool downs to prepare the body

  • Change directions on banked roads or tracks to prevent overuse of the same part of the body.

  • Listen to your body! Heed to warning signs such as persistent pain. Otherwise, you will change your gait to adapt to the pain which may result in more injury.

  • Use the RICE principle when experiencing pain or discomfort (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate).

  • Eat accordingly- Make sure you are maintaining a healthy diet while training. A healthy diet will help decrease recovery time and allow your body the proper nutrients to repair.

  • Cross train to improve muscle balance (swimming, biking, elliptical, rowing etc).

  • Building up the strength in your pelvic, core and leg musculature to protect the body from injury.

  • Stretching should be a part of your everyday routine, not just before activity. Stretch all the way down the leg to the bottom of foot. Roll out plantar fascia on tennis ball or frozen water bottle if experiencing discomfort in the bottom of foot or heel.

  • Wear good shoes and replace them regularly. In extreme cases of over pronation or supination you may need to seek a professionals help to have your gait analyzed for assistive devices such as orthotics.

  • Lastly, in order to prevent or even heal from injuries seek the help of your favorite chiropractor!

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