Spring has sprung, let’s go for a RUN!
With the warm weather upon us, many Vancouverites have come out of hibernation and started pounding the pavement. Whether you are an avid runner, or a beginner just trying to add a bit of physical activity in your lives, there are a few exercises and stretches that may help with preventing some common running injuries.
In our inaugural blog post, we would like to talk about 2 common running injuries, including what their causes are, how to treat this condition and how to decrease your risk of them from occurring.
The first condition is Plantar fasciitis. This is a condition that involves the plantar fascia, a web-like tissue that is located at the bottom of your foot, or more specifically the heel of your foot. With the repetitive pounding of the heel against pavement, this may pull on the fascia causing it to become inflamed. Many people with this condition will also complain of calf tightness or achilles tendon pain as well. The main factors that may increase your risk of plantar fasciitis is poor shoeware, knee and hip instability or weakness and calf tightness. How do we manage this condition? Firstly we ice the bottom of the heel regularly to decrease the inflammation and/or take anti-inflammatory medications. (Refer to your doctor for more information on this). Secondly we stretch and exercise! A physiotherapist can assess your running gait to see what weaknesses or issues you may have at your hip, knee and foot and then prescribe you exercises accordingly. If, for example, we notice that your knees come together with each step, we may prescribe glute muscle exercises to help pull the knees apart. If the calf muscle presents as tight, we may perform some soft tissue release techniques, prescribe stretches, use dry needling or refer you to a Registered massage therapist to help with that. Correcting issues with alignment and muscle stiffness will help improve running gait and therefore reduce impact forces on the heel. In addition to treatment and exercise, custom foot orthotics or taping have also been proven to help with treating plantar fasciitis as well. Keep in mind though, orthotics and taping alone do not seem to improve the condition, it is usually used as an adjunct to treatment and exercise. It’ll take some effort to treat this but don’t worry , with the right advice and encouragement, it can get better!
The second condition affects the knee and is called Iliotibial band friction syndrome. This occurs when the outside of the thigh (iliotibial band, or ITB) is so tight that it creates some tension and pressure on the outside of the knee. This added pressure at the outside of the knee causes inflammation on the outside of the knees at the ITB. People with this condition typically complain of pain at the outside of the knee with every step during running. It most often occurs with people who like to run on trails or even surfaces, but it can occur on regular pavement pounders too. Treatment typically consists of ice and anti-inflammatory medications at first, followed by assessment of the hip and knee. Tightness at the front of the hip, calf and outside lower leg are common with this condition. Similar to plantar fasciitis, physiotherapy treatment or massage therapy can help with this tightness. Calf stretches, hip stretches and quad stretches as well as strengthening of leg muscles will also help with correcting running gait and technique. Again, a little effort goes a long way! With encouragement and support from a professional, you can definitely get over this condition!
Here are some fun exercises you could add to your running routine to help with your running technique!
Place one foot in front of the other and bend the front knee. Keeping the back leg straight, hold stretch for at least 30 seconds. Repeat for 3 sets on each side
While standing at the edge of a step, alternate between lowering your heel and raising your heel. Repeat for 10 repetitions. Perform 3 sets.