Healthy & Injury-free: Run for it!
Running is, for so many people, an incredibly enjoyable sport. Its pleasures are plenty: it can be meditative, offering a quiet and reflective time outdoors. It can be satisfying either in solitude (anyone need to recharge their batteries?) or with friends, if your preference is to connect with others in the fresh air.
Running is easily accessible, too: there’s no fancy equipment required or gear you need, besides your body, some good shoes, and the ground beneath your feet. And the joys don’t end there: many people enjoy running because it can be a relatively quick workout. It allows you to sneak in a blast of cardio and an increased heart rate without taking too much time out of your busy day, whether you’re working long hours, or enjoying a leisurely vacation. It’s no wonder that so many of our team members here at Creekside love to run as a part of their exercise routines!
But, needless to say, running – whether it’s on the trail or the pavement – isn’t exactly a low-impact sport. In fact, if proper care isn’t taken before, during, and after your jogs, the activity can do a bit of damage to your body – especially to the knees.
We’re going to run through a few of the many common injuries, in case any of them describe a pain you’re experiencing, as well how to start healing them - so you can continue enjoying your jogs for years to come.
This condition feels like a sharp pain below the knee, especially when running downhill. It occurs when the patella tendon – which attaches the kneecap to the tibia, and absorbs a lot of the shock from running – becomes inflamed after repeated use.
It may begin as a feeling of stiffness, before it progressively becomes more uncomfortable. While a short-term fix is a proper warm-up and ample stretching before your run, in order to really solve the issue, often more muscle strength is needed in the hamstring and quadriceps. Thankfully, this can be achieved through regular and specific exercises that your physiotherapist will assign to you.
It’s likely a term you’ve heard before, though it’s actual name is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. It’s similar to the condition described above, but is a different injury with a different treatment.
Runner’s Knee, which is slightly more common among women, feels like pain underneath, behind, or around the kneecap. It’s caused by the patella tendon moving out of alignment and causing the cartilage behind it to become irritated. It can be aggravated by running downhill, squatting, and sitting.
The solution can include reducing mileage or cross-training with other, lower-impact sports, while undergoing your treatment plan, in which your physiotherapist will help you find a more ideal stride for your body. Additionally, they’ll give you an exercise program that might include strength training and foam rolling.
IT Band Syndrome
This injury usually feels like pain on the outside of the knee, but can often come all the way up the outside of your thigh to the hip. It can feel like a sore muscle – but it isn’t. It tends to come on a few minutes into a run, and then subside afterward.
Your Iliotibial band connects the hip and knee, crossing the knee joint. If the muscles in the hip abductor and hip flexors are weak, or if the IT band is particularly tight, it can rub against the bone in the knee, causing irritation in an area that’s rich with blood vessels, nerve endings, and fluid. Ouch!
There are many other ways that running can impact your body, too, of course. One thing that many of these conditions have in common is a connection to the hips: in general, strong and flexible muscles in this area are closely associated with injury-free running. Your physiotherapist can craft an exercise program specifically for you that targets your hips, as well as the other major muscle groups that power your runs.
Whether it’s preventative medicine or working to heal an existing condition, the team at Creekside will also help you nail down the right biomechanics for your unique body. This includes the ideal foot strike and the gait that works best for you, as well as warm-up and cool down routines. Each runner is, of course, completely different, and requires his or her own program.
Whether you’re training for a big race, or getting into jogging just for the fun of it, the team at Creekside will help you progress your running while staying safe – and having a blast.