October 29, 2015 at 3:26
Posted by Rachael Woolston
Want to injury-proof your body? Learn to listen to your body’s warning signals and take the correct course of action
When it comes to running injuries, there are very few that come out of nowhere. 99.9% of the time, the body gives you a clear warning, and it is only when you ignore it, that you risk the chance of it developing into an injury that at the very least, will disrupt your training, and at worst will completely take you out of running.
Learning to heed the warning signs come with running experience… or reading our mini and simplified guide* to the niggles not to ignore!
This can start as a general ache in the knee, and eventually feel so bad after a run or the day afterwards, that you can’t go down the stairs and even sitting with your knee bent can be excruciatingly painful. The best description of the pain? Like you have ground glass underneath the knee cap.
What is it? This can either be caused by tight quadricep muscles, and more commonly Illitobial Band Syndrome. Put simply, this band of tissue runs down the outside of the leg, and helps to stabilise the knee. Except that it can get over worked.
When this happens, it begins to ‘pull’ the knee camp causing aggravation. At worse, the patella – or knee cap, is pulled off it’s tracking causing that horrific ground glass feeling. This can also be a result of tight adductors and quad muscles.
Cause: Poor hip and core stability.
Symptom: If it is very severe, you need to stop running and seek specialised help. Sports massage can help greatly, and RockTape used to help ‘pinch’ the fascia away and improve movement as you run.
Cause: To help prevent it from recurring, or happening at all, you need to strengthen your core and hips so that you are stable as you run, and don’t over-pronate causing the ITB to be overworked.
Some people recommend wearing shoes with inserts to help with this but the best thing to do is to ensure your body is doing the work needed rather than a shoe. Try clams, bridges, and dead bug exercises.
Also, foam roll the quads and inner thighs. Hip flexor stretches can also help.
It can start as a slight tightness in the heel, often preceded by a tight calf. Perhaps when you get out of bed in the morning, you feel like you can’t walk properly for a few minutes? This can also be a warning sign, along with pain in the arch of your foot. Eventually, the pain in the heel can feel like someone is sticking in nail right into the centre.
What is it? The dreaded plantar fasciitis, caused when the flat band of ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes, and supports the arch of your foot, becomes irritated.
Cause: Tight calf muscles, poor stability, insufficient stretching, and sometimes a high arch or flat feet.
Symptom: if you have heel pain so severe that it feels like someone is drilling into your heel, STOP running and seek specialised help. Otherwise, always foam roll your calf muscles BEFORE and after a run, and roll underneath the foot with a massage ball or even a frozen bottle of water.
Cause: To help prevent this happening, or nip it in the bud before it develops, self massage, foam roll and use a massage ball under the foot religiously.
But also, do the above exercises mentioned for the preceding problem; having weak gluteal and core muscles, often mean that other parts of the body such as calf muscle are overworked.
Also, have your running technique assessed to see if you overpronate or could benefit from a different style of running shoe.Those with flat feet, can benefit from strengthening the arches of the foot by ‘walking’ a resistance band towards them barefoot.
Suffer from tightness right in the curve of your back? Or an uncomfortable sensation in your glute/hip as if someone is pinching or pushing their finely manicured long fingernail into your butt?
What is it? Well, hello there piriformis muscle. This tiny little muscle, hidden deep beneath the gluteal muscles works to stabilise your hips as you run. But if you are not stable (perhaps you only run and have never done any strength training?) it gets overworked and inflamed.
Alternatively, if you can feel it in the ‘curve’ of your back, an overworked Quadratus Lumborum is the culprit.
Cause: At the risk of repeating ourselves, the culprit again is lack of stability in the hips and core, although factors such as having one leg slightly longer than the other (which may be muscular rather than skeletal) could also be an issue.
Symptom: Yoga stretches like pigeon, or figure four against a wall can all help release the piriformis while a correctly performed trikonasana can help release the QL. Also, try a massage ball rolled into the gluteal and a firm, strong sports massage.
Cause: You guessed it, clams, bridges, and lots of core work.
To sum up…
Almost all injuries are caused by muscular imbalance that can be avoided with the correct strength and stretching work, as a way to injury-proof your body. You can search YouTube for many of the exercises that we have mentioned in this post to do at home.
Alternatively, try our Marathon Foundations course for men and women. While aimed at those training for a marathon in April 2016, the work we do within this course is specific to all runners of all levels and goals.
We are also trialling a 30 minute Run Flex & Mobility class, launching this Monday November 2nd at an indoor studio on Brighton seafront from 7.00-7.30am open to men and women limited to 8 people. HiiT class passes can be used to book these sessions or pay £10 for a single drop-in.
* This guide is a simplified explanation of some of the most common running injuries. It is not meant to replace specialised advice from physiotherapists. If in doubt about any of your symptoms seek professional advice.
Our physio partners in Brighton are www.bodyrehabstudios.com
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