During the summer months, running is an activity that picks up in popularity. It’s a great way to boost cardiovascular health. However, it can also place a lot of stress on the musculoskeletal structure of your body.
Your chiropractor often sees improper footwear and over-training as common causes for running injuries, along with misalignment in the hips and pelvis. If you think you’ve incurred one of the injuries described below, consult your chiropractor. You may need to suspend or reduce your running routine until the problem is healed. You can help lessen pain and inflammation of these injuries by applying ice to the affected areas for ten minutes every two hours.
You may need to suspend or reduce your running routine until the problem is healed. You can help lessen pain and inflammation of these injuries by applying ice to the affected areas for ten minutes every two hours.
Here are the most common problems associated with running:
1) Plantar fasciitis
A repetitive strain of the plantar fascia that leads to painful inflammation of this tissue located at the bottom of your feet. The pain is typically worse in the morning and then tends to ease as the day goes on.
What causes it? Running puts an increased mechanical load on the arch of your foot. If your arch is not properly positioned, or your muscles leading to the foot are too tight, you may be adding abnormal stress.
What can you do? Besides ice therapy and adjusting your running routine, treatments may also include myofascial stripping techniques applied to the bottom of your feet. If your chiropractor identifies over-pronation (fallen arches) as the problem, he or she may suggest custom orthotics to reduce the mechanical stress. Stretching your calf muscles regularly may help prevent this problem from recurring.
2) Shin splints
Pain or tenderness along the front of the shin where your tibialis muscles attach to your lower leg. The pain is usually sharp when you’re running and often feels achy while you’re at rest.
What causes it? Tendons of the tibialis muscles wrap around the arch of your foot, helping to support it. When the arches experience excessive loads, these tendons are placed under strain. When this happens, your muscles pull away from their attachments to the shin bone. Improper shoes, running on hard surfaces and over-pronation of the feet may aggravate this condition.
What can you do? Avoid running on concrete surfaces. Have your chiropractor check the mobility and alignment of the bones in your feet and ankles. If over-pronation is detected, you may need custom orthotics. Once your pain is reduced, regular stretching of the muscles in your lower legs can help stop future problems.
3) Runner’s knee
Known as “chondromalacia patella”, it’s pain felt under the kneecap, accompanied by a grinding or popping noise when bending the knee. You may also notice swelling and redness.
What causes it? Improper positioning of the patella over the knee joint. This triggers your kneecap to excessively rub against the surface of your leg bones, leading to repetitive wear and tear of the cartilage and recurring inflammation. Improper knee alignment is commonly caused by instability of the feet or pelvis. Tightness or imbalance in the quadriceps muscles may also cause symptoms.
What can you do? Stop running and get chiropractic advice. Have your chiropractor check the alignment of your feet and pelvis. Misalignment in the feet may require orthotics and imbalance in the pelvis may be helped with chiropractic adjustments. When pain subsides, you may try strengthening the vastus medialis obliquus muscle (VMO) – one of the quadriceps muscles of your thigh – to prevent this problem from returning.
4) Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
Tenderness and inflammation at the outside of the knee where the iliotibial band crosses the knee joint. The pain usually starts while running and can intensify as your run progresses. Walking on hilly surfaces or using stairs can make the symptoms worse.
What causes it? Anything that creates tightness in your IT band. The result is likely friction, pain and inflammation. Fallen arches are often responsible. This condition causes the lower leg to rotate inward upon a heel strike. This pre-stretches tissue and makes it vulnerable to excessive strain. Pelvic imbalances or restrictions may also contribute to this syndrome.
What can you do? Avoid running on hills. Have your chiropractor check your pelvis and your feet for imbalances. Although extremely painful, massaging the outside part of the leg may also help reduce the tightness and soreness in the long term. Once the pain is manageable, stretching the tensor fascia lata muscle, located in your thigh, as well as the gluteal muscles may help halt the return of this syndrome.
Alignment is the key to avoid most running injuries.
Be sure to have your chiropractor check your alignment before starting a running program. Correcting the problem early may help prevent a more painful situation from happening down the road.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Lowery to start your healing process as soon as possible.