Get your Running Back on Track
It's that time of year, where running season is in full swing and people are preparing from 10ks, half and full marathons (not mentioning the big 1 in London in a couple of weeks time!) This means I start to see a lot of runners come through the clinic doors!
Here at The Physio & Sports Injury Clinic in Rhos on Sea, we want to keep all you runners running well. Therefore I thought I’d write a quick blog post and share the problems I see the most in the clinic as a result of upping the running mileage.
Firstly, Running is a fantastic form of exercise (and is something I love to do myself when I’m not treating people). All you need is a pair of trainers and you're all set! But it's not always that simple. Whether you're a regular ParkRunner, you run for fun (like me) or you take it a bit more seriously and run marathons, running can take it's toll on your body. So many factors can impact on your performance, success and enjoyment.
The running injuries I most commonly see/treat in clinic are:
Achilles tendon & calf muscle strains
Shin splints (painful lower shins)
Plantar Fasciitis (pain along the sole of your foot).
Statistically around 80% of runners will develop a running-related injury each year and these are often caused by 4 major things:
Inefficient Technique - everyone thinks because they can walk, they can just automatically run. That maybe true but there is actually quite some skill/technique to running well, which most don’t think or care about. The problem is, you don’t find out you’ve got a problem until its too late and an injury has set in! Technique involves things like speed, pace, stride length, step width, step rate, limb alignment, ankle landing mechanics etc. (All very technical stuff). That’s where a good coach or sports physio can come in and help. Being a sports clinic - we come in useful with this: (Find out more)
Muscle Imbalances - The problem with (some) runners is they often just run, and do nothing else. Running unfortunately doesn't make you that strong, It more helps cardiovascular fitness. To change your bodies structure & develop bigger/stronger muscle it needs some gym work!! Just pounding the pavements over and over again with running can allow imbalances to occur in muscle groups, i.e. some muscles will get over-active and others may get super lazy, tight and weak! (Try a Sports Massage to loosen up tight muscles from us)?
Poor Training Habits - How many people start off with a plan and then actually stick to it?? This used to be a big issue for runners, where people chose to run sporadically, with no clear plan/goal in mind. Nowadays though if you’re running a big race then most people download a running plan online or via a phone app to follow e.g. (couch to 5k). The problem with these online plans are that they are generic and may not actually suit you that well. They are not specific to your current strength, capacity to run and general health and fitness etc. They also do not account for when your home-life gets in the way of a run (stress, tiredness, illness, work, family etc.) So what does that mean you play catch-up & injury sets in!
Incorrect Footwear - are you guilty of paying large amounts of money for a pair of trainers in a sports shop because the shop assistant told you....,
“You are a Pronator”??!!?? What do the big retailers really know about the biomechanics of feet and running!! This really is a topic for a separate blog post, but in summary the retail market/online forums seem to be flooded with incorrect information and myths about running footwear. The sad truth is, a runner is more likely to listen to a fellow runner or shop assistant over a Medical Practitioner - like a physio? So this is a big ‘hot potato’ topic to approach with any runner in the Physio & Sport Injury Clinic. Being a ‘pronator’ actually is no big thing - everybody's feet pronate (i.e. the foot roles inwards). Its normal! The question that should really be asked is…., Is that pronation actually causing a problem or not? For some it might be, but for others, retailers may actually be interfering / ‘correcting’ a completely normal movement. If in any doubt, seek some professional help first from a sports physio or podiatrist who can advise you what to look for at sports shops.
If it ain’t broke, Don’t fix it!
To address any of these 4 issues above, I would always recommend seeking the advice of a Sport Physiotherapist first, to establish if there is a real problem or not, alongside some specialist Gait Analysis technology, which we have at the clinic! [Learn More Here]