Running is good for you. It boosts immune cells, heart and lung function, decreases insulin resistance and has been shown to decrease the rate of knee osteoarthritis. It has also been proven to decrease chronic systemic inflammation, not to mention preventing at least 25 other chronic conditions.
It’s no wonder then that lots of people run – but as physiotherapists we often see people who have injured themselves when they run the wrong way.
So what are the main things that runners do that lead to injury, and how do you avoid them? Here are the top three.
Most runners display one or two minor issues with their running technique that unchecked can lead to major issues, such as over- stride, excessive foot pronation or landing on a suboptimal part oftheir foot. Small technical problems can turn into big headaches when running over long distances or at a suboptimal pace. For example, runners who overstride often land on their heel, which can lead to injuries such as plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral pain and shin splints. Ouch!
An expert such as a physiotherapist can assess your running technique and give you the tips and advice you need to make small changes to your running technique that will make a big difference when it comes to potential injuries. Even something as simple as shortening your stride can help to reduce the ground reaction forces that ultimately lead to avoidable pain.
2. Match Fitness
As they say, you have to walk before you can run. Intrinsic factors in individual runners such as lack of flexibility or lack of strength in key stabilising and global muscles can decrease your capacity to employ proper running technique. If you’re just starting your running journey, chances are you will experience one or more of those issues.
For example, runners with tight anterior hip muscles which are the hallmarks of having a desk job and weak glutei (i.e. booty muscles) that simply aren’t worked enough frequently experience lower back
pain, hip impingement, patellofemoral pain and Achilles tendinopathy after running. Physiotherapists can assess your key “running muscles” and work out exactly what you need to do to improve your underlying capacity to ‘run, Forest, run!’ Just increasing your glutei and calf power by 10% can seriously increase your ease of propulsion and muscle power.
3. Power Load
Load management is key when running because all runners need to manage their training load to ensure they have capacity to handle the big forces being exerted on the muscles and bones in their legs. If these things aren’t managed well, it leads to avoidable pain. When you run with pain you inevitably adopt maladaptive (bad) behaviours leading to both physical and non-physical changes such as increased stress and decreased running capacity. It really is a vicious cycle.
A physiotherapist can assess and educate you on the best way to manage your training loads. Something as simple as adjusting your gait through specific, targeted exercise prescription can seriously improve muscle capacity and have you running better.
Book an appointment today with our specialist and passionate physios at Rozelle Physio and receive a gait analysis, muscle testing and a personalised exercise prescription to improve your running today.