Gilbert physical therapy provider Scott Campbell has a doctorate in physical therapy and specializes in helping athletes, particularly runners, minimize and rehabilitate their injuries. He explains what puts runners at risk for injury, and how they can solve it.
Running has become a very popular activity over the last 30 years. Runners of all ages and abilities can participate in different races that come in a range of distances, and might include fun additions like obstacles, mud, or colored powder. Running can be a solitary activity or done in small and large groups. Overall, it is a great way to improve your health and fitness, yet most runners will experience an injury at some point. Many factors contribute to running injuries, but the two most common factors are training errors and biomechanical abnormalities.
When we say ‘training errors,’ we mean the aspects of a runner’s training that may lead to injury. This can include performing training techniques improperly, or even avoiding some parts of training can prevent injury. A proper training schedule should include consistent running days as well as rest days to ensure you are not overworking your body. Running on varying surfaces, following a steady progression of mileage and intensity, performing recovery techniques, and including plyometric (jump training) exercises and total body strengthening are all important parts of a runner’s training. Runners who are unable or unwilling to include the training aspects above are putting themselves at an increased risk of injury.
Apart from training errors, runners often suffer from biomechanical abnormalities. This means the body is moving in a way it normally shouldn’t, causing stress on the body. There are intrinsic and extrinsic biomechanical faults that can cause running injuries. Intrinsic factors include a runner’s strength, power, muscle endurance, coordination, flexibility, and running technique. These intrinsic faults can be corrected through proper exercise and training activities.
The major extrinsic factor is footwear. The running shoe industry is vast and confusing. There are many different brands and styles of shoes that promise you will run faster, with better form, and with less impact to your body. How can you know what the right shoe is for you? Some running stores will film you running barefoot on a treadmill, show you the video, and then recommend a type of shoe. There are several problems with this method. What knowledge of running mechanics, anatomy, and kinesiology does the running store employee possess? Does he or she understand the differences in running mechanics when running with and without shoes, or when running on a treadmill versus the open road or trail? Some may have an excellent understanding of these issues, but it is not a pre-requisite for their employment.
If you want to get into running on a regular basis and don’t know where to start, if you’ve been running with a minor nagging injury, or if you’ve had to stop running due to injury, you have a variety of options. The first step you should take is a visit to a physical therapist who has a special interest in running injuries. Physical therapists are movement experts and exercise prescription experts. A physical therapist with a special interest in running injuries will be able to help you recover from any existing injury, help you discover any possible training errors or biomechanical abnormalities contributing to your injury, and give you the tools to achieve your running goals with a reduced chance of injury.
You can find a PT with the knowledge and skills you are looking for at the Foothills Sports Medicine Gilbert-Mesa Clinic. I will take the time needed to perform a comprehensive musculoskeletal examination, discuss your training habits, and perform a video run-gait analysis to help you optimize your running goals.
Schedule an appointment today at any one of our locations across the valley so we can begin to help you identify your problems and work together to create solutions tailored to your needs. To learn more about physical therapy and what our certified experts can do for you, follow our blog!