As I was out enjoying a beautiful fall run this weekend, it occurred to me that some easy guidelines for dealing with running injuries would be helpful to a lot of people. The following are a few simple steps that I tend to follow when I suspect a running injury of my own:
1. Go back to the volume and intensity you were doing before the pain started. The human body has an amazing ability to adapt to stresses placed on it, but if training increases are greater than the body's ability to adapt, you will get overall regression in tissue strength instead of progression. In a study looking at types of running shoe correlating with injury, it was actually body mass index and training intensity that were correlated to injury; shoe type had no correlation! And try to do this AS SOON AS you realize there is a problem. I always tell people the longer you have an overuse injury, the longer it will take to heal from it. The tissues have be degrading the whole time you have been in pain, often even longer!
2. If the pain persists after a week of reduced running volume and intensity, do modified activity for a week. This could include running in the water, biking, hiking or a yoga class. Anything that will decrease the impact on your body, while maintaining some fitness.
3. Do some specific rehabilitation exercises. While you are doing your modified activity, it is a perfect time to try to do some exercises to promote your healing and address imbalances. I would recommend eccentric strengthening (see my previous blog on eccentric strengthening) if you think it is a tendon issue, ITB roller or some specific massage ball work, gluteus and core strengthening and lots of stretching. Every runner I have ever treated could do more hamstring, calf and hip flexor stretching. Do them every day you remember.
4. If after a week of modified activity and rehab exercises your pain has reduced significantly (80%better) go back to #1. If not, I would suggest consulting a sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist. You probably need specific exercise prescription as well as some hands-on treatment or modality intervention.
If you are lost trying to figure out which rehabilitation exercises are right for you or if you are on a rigid training timeline, you may need to see your physiotherapist even sooner!
For more information on our practitioners and services, please see our website www.macleansportphysio.ca.
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