Run better not less | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Run better not less

April 6, 2015

Throughout your running career, you will experience various types of aches and pains, most of which you will try to ‘run through’. What you may not be aware of is the compensation patterns that start to form when you run through the pain. The consequences of these compensations will gradually sneak up to haunt you as different muscles and joints take on additional stress because of muscles imbalances or weakness. Run Better, Not Less is written for experienced and beginner runners alike, who would like to manage their pain properly or prevent running injuries from getting worse.

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Just as running through pain is not recommended, avoiding running because of pain is also not the best idea. Someone may have told you to stop running or take some time off, thinking that whatever was causing your pain will fix itself in the week or two you avoid running. The pain may subside, but the injury itself is not eliminated. Also, in that time off you will lose strength and delay the healing process. In either case, seeking help is imperative, and it is also something runners do not like to accept. Runners are stubborn and the book discusses some of the biggest mistakes we make and the consequences of those mistakes. The book also includes the proper steps to take once you first notice pain while running and how to retrain your body to move like a well-oiled machine. One thing for sure is a well-oiled machine requires the proper ‘tools’ to function smoothly. Run Better, Not Less discusses the proper equipment all runners should have in their tool box. Equipment such as Kinesio Tape, Ice, and Foam Rollers are vital in recovery and managing your symptoms. Recovery is often ignored by runners because they only leave enough time to run or only use it if they have pain. Whether you have pain or not, tight muscles are a result of running and a foam roller is sure to find those knots. (If you don’t believe me, find a foam roll and roll on your IT Band for a few seconds). Proper use and different techniques are explained in detail, including simple and effective taping strategies to avoid being ‘that person’ at the race who gave themselves a Kinesio Tape body wrap. This also guarantees you get the most out of your equipment without cheating!

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Run Better, Not Less, also addresses the question of how do you know which type of pain is normal and which type of pain is concerning? The book educates you on what type of symptoms you should be taking notice of, and how to easily manage them at home before seeing your health care practitioner. Common running injuries are discussed in detail, including the anatomy, signs, and symptoms for each injury. The book is not meant for you to self-diagnose and treat, but rather understand why and how the injury occurred. A knowledgeable runner is a successful runner. For example, knee pain commonly occurs in runners. It’s easy to think that just the knee is involved, but it is only a small part. Your hip and lower leg muscles have a great influence on how your knee functions, and these areas may be where your problem lies. Weak hips can lead to increased stress at the knee and even at the foot, since these areas will end up absorbing more of the impact during running. Injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and runner’s knee can occur because of weak or inefficient hip muscles. A weak core and weak calf muscles can also place even more stress on the foot during running, increasing the risk for plantar fasciitis or shin splints to occur. Your hip muscles also control the rotation of the leg during running and walking. When this motion does not occur smoothly because of weak hips, core and tight hip muscles, Iliotibial Band Tendinitis can occur. The IT Band extends from the outside of your hip to the knee, and increased irritation at any part of this band can cause either knee pain or hip pain. Muscles imbalances are another common cause of running injuries. Runner’s knee occurs because the muscles at the front of your thigh pull the knee cap to either side of the leg, depending on which muscles is stronger. This results in knee pain because the knee cap is wearing away at the cartilage behind it as it is being pulled in certain directions. Muscles strains/sprains, such as a groin pull or hamstring strain can also be caused by muscles imbalances. These muscles ‘give in’ and tear because they cannot keep up with their strong counterparts. Tight muscles that are no able to withstand a strong muscles contraction can also put you at increased risk for straining a muscle. Tight muscles also form knots, or trigger points, causing increasing tension on the tendon attached to the muscles, leading to common injuries such as Achilles tendonitis. Run Better, Not Less goes into more detail with each of these injuries, along with exercises and treatment you can perform at home.

It is important to note that the book does not take the place of an office visit. Rather, it helps to provide a bridge between when your injury occurred and a visit to your physician or physical therapist. A physical therapist will help investigate where the origin of your injury occurred by analyzing your gait and how you run. Running is an intense sport and requires a lot of strength and stability to withstand the stress and impact it places on your body. This requires all of your muscles and joints to be strong and work together. You physical therapist will find out where your weaknesses are and what parts of the body are not moving as well as they should be. Every running injury is unique and your therapist will develop an individualized exercise routine to help address your specific impairments. Once you are back on track with your running routine, the book can serve as a guide to help manage any minor aches or pains that pop up along the way, or a home exercise program to prevent injuries from reoccurring. Run Better, Not Less will allow you to take action sooner rather than later, making your injuries seem more like speed bumps instead of road blocks on the road to successfully completing your race.