We know that you YEG runners have been anxious to get out and hit the trails this spring. Following a long Alberta winter, and after spending March and April inside of your house, we understand the desire to lace up the runners and get moving. With this beautiful change in weather our running shoes and “quarantine-fifteen” bodies are going to get one heck of a working over! At Optimize Physiotherapy we want to encourage you to embrace the desire to run, but to train smart, and be aware of potential injuries!
Every spring, in the clinic we see a big spike in running related injuries, many of which are often fully preventable. These injuries are often related to overuse and a rapid increase in demand on the muscles of the lower leg. You have likely heard of (or experienced) some of these common injuries in the past including achilles tendinitis, shin splints and plantar fasciitis. As an athlete you should ensure you are educating yourself and paying attention to the early signs and symptoms of these types of problems. This way, you can be proactive, addressing them as minor nagging issues before they start to really slow you down.
Below is a brief description of these injuries, how they are caused, and how they can be prevented or eliminated. As a clinic our goal is always to provide you with the tools you need to treat your own body. On that note, please refer to the accompanying videos of mobilization techniques that you should use to guide your daily running maintenance. This will ensure that you prevent injuries and also improve your overall performance! Remember, this is just a guideline and if you have any problems that are too severe for these exercises to help, you should be seeking the advice of a physiotherapist!
This is caused by overuse and inflammation of the achilles tendon which connects your calf muscles to the back of the heel. If you’re developing achilles tendinitis you will have pain in the achilles tendon, which will be tender to the touch and you will get pain with exercise such as jumping, skipping, running, stairs and hill training. This issue can arise from tightness in the calf muscles (often due to lack of stretching and mobility work) combined with high impact exercises that put excessive stress on the tendon. The solution comes with a combination of mobility and eccentric strengthening to rebuild the tendon. Mobility exercises will include mobilizing and stretching the calf muscles and improving ankle joint range of motion. Eccentric strengthening would focus on the “negative” portion of a movement, in this case calf raises with a slow controlled decent back to a resting position.
Shin splints usually occur when there is an excessive pull on the muscle tissue attaching to the shin bone (the tibia). This can be either the tibialis posterior or tibialis anterior muscles which help to support the ankle and foot during running. With increased impact forces on the legs, often related to a tired running stride, or a transition to a harder surface, the muscles tend to get overworked and start to pull excessively from their attachment on the tibia. This creates pain and inflammation along the front and inside of the shin. The solution comes from a combination of mobility exercises, work on running technique, and isolated strengthening. Mobility work should focus on “smashing” the tight tissues around the shins before and after a run using tools such as a foam roller, mobility stick, and lacrosse ball.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by pain in the arch and heel of the foot, caused by excessive stress and inflammation of the connective tissue. It is often very painful first thing in the morning and worse with high impact exercise such as running, jumping and skipping. The plantar fascia itself will be significantly tender to touch and will usually feel very tight along the arch of the foot. This issue is often caused by tightness in the lower leg and foot combined with repetitive loading of the spring-like nature of the tissues making up the arch of the foot. For some people with extremely flat feet, a foot orthotic is necessary to provide external support. However, in most cases this injury can be treated with a combination of controlling inflammation, mobilizing the plantar fascia, and working on improving muscle activation and stability through the arch of the foot. Stretching the muscles of the calf and smashing the connective tissue making up the plantar fascia are crucial in preventing, and reducing symptoms associated with plantar fasciitis.
OPTIMIZE PHYSIOTHERAPY & SPORTS INJURY CLINIC
17317 105 Ave, Edmonton, AB T5S 1H2