As spring comes around many people are thinking about ways to stay or become active this year. Asheville has a huge population of runners, I like that it is easy to set goals and monitor progress when choosing running over other ways to maintain health. There are many local running groups which make it easier to keep up for those who need external motivation. With all physical activity, however, there are also some pitfalls associated. Studies have shown that 50% of runners will experience an injury during any given year.
Three common issues associated with running and exercises to address them.
1: Low Back Pain: In the clinic I see a link between running and low back pain. Many of the runners I see who have low back pain also have tightness in their hips. This is especially true with tightness in the front of the hips. I feel the most effective way to stretch this area is to kneel in a lunge position focusing on stretching your back leg. The stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds.
2: IT Band Syndrome: Your IT band is a band of connective tissue along the outside of your upper leg that runs from your hip all the way to the outside of your knee. The key to managing IT Band syndrome is to strengthen your hip muscles to minimize stress to the band. The most effective exercise for strengthening the outside of your hips is to stand on one leg unsupported by your hands and swing opposite leg out to the side slow and controlled. This exercise should be performed for 15-20 repetitions.
3: Lower leg problems: I see a large number of runners with either achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis or bursitis. This may have to do with flexibility with problems in the lower leg. Plantar fasciitis in particular responds very well to calf stretching. There are several ways to stretch your calf. I think the simplest and most effective way to stretch the calf is to find a step or a curb and hang your heels off the side and let them fall until a stretch is felt. This stretch should be performed for at least 30 seconds and performed with both knee bent and knee straight.
The other thing to think about is your running mechanics may be irritating either your muscles or joints. There are many resource to address running mechanics but I think that it is helpful to have someone who can identify flaws in your gait. All of these things are helpful to make your running experience less painful. There are many other things that can help. The take home message is that runners must be mindful of their mechanics and problems areas. This is especially true given the rates runners experience pain and injury.
If you would like to address some of the mobility or stability problems that may be affecting your running, contact us at PHYSIO Physical Therapy and Wellness. (828) 348-1780
Christopher Taylor, MPT, Licensed Physical Therapist with PHYSIO Physical Therapy and Wellness. Chris is a runner himself and was a finisher in the Honolulu Marathon in 2010.
PHYSIO Physical Therapy and Wellness
660 Merrimon Ave, Ste C
Asheville, NC 28804