By: Tom Padilla, https://thedoctorsofpt.com
When consulting with a medical professional about running injury, the last thing a runner wants to hear is that they should stop running. You can almost feel the tension in the air rise as runners think about what they would do without running! To people who run, it’s not always the act of running that drives their passion. It’s the community, it’s the stress relief, it’s the break in their daily grind when they can just let their mind wander and push their worries aside. So to think about this post as just another bit of advice about running would be selling it short. The advice I’m about to give, is sure to help runners keep up with their community, reduce their stress, and enjoy their break from the daily grind for as long as they wish. Did you know that the majority of running injuries occur at the knee? It’s estimated that over 42% of running injuries each year occur at the knee and that 65% of runners will sustain some sort of injury every year. When they ran the numbers it was found that for every 100 hours of running, the average runner sustains 1 injury and will miss 5-10% of their workouts. Enough of the numbers, let’s talk about why, and let’s keep it simple. The majority of injuries are ‘overuse’ injuries. This type of injury is due to too much load. Load is the amount of stress or strain that your muscles and joints take on. When certain muscles don’t do their jobs correctly, they put extra stress on other muscles as well as joints. This is why you have so many shoes to choose from. Shoes that stop you from pronating because your muscles don’t hold your arch up, shoes that have big cushions because your meniscus is tired of absorbing all the shock, and on it goes. When they studied runners with the least amount of injury over time they found that these runners landed the softest. Think of it like you’re in an egg throwing competition. You and your partner have to get further and further from each other and throw/catch the egg without breaking it. What’s your strategy for catching the egg? Right when the egg gets to your hand, do you leave your hand where it is and just shut your fingers? Or do you try to cradle it towards you quickly and soften its landing? If you’re playing to win the contest, you chose the second option. This is exactly what your muscles are supposed to do for you when you hit the ground while running - soften your landing. The load imparted with each step is shared at the foot/ankle, knee, and hip. Problems arise when one of these areas does not do its job. The secret here is that even though the injury occurs at the knee, the real culprit is typically the hip.
Why does the hip get most of the blame? Well as a society in the US, our jobs have made our hips so lazy there’s actually a term for it...DBS - or Dormant Butt Syndrome. Do you know how to squeeze your glutes on command? If not, you may already have DBS. Go ahead, if you’re sitting down, squeeze the glutes. If done correctly you should rise an inch or two in your chair.
Why is this such a problem in runners? The reason is simple really. The hip is designed to move in six directions, forward/backward, side/side, and rotate in/out. When running we only train two of those directions and we leave out the other four. The important thing to know here is that there’s one thigh bone - the femur. What happens at the hip gets amplified at the knee because it’s the same bone.
The great news is that if you start training your hip in these other directions it can stabilize your knee. (and t)The hip will start absorbing load better, which will decrease the load on all the other joints and muscles. This can lead to many more years of healthy running. Here’s the kicker: training these muscles not only prevents injury, but has been shown to improve running economy, and improve the speed of your distance runs. Talk about gains! Here are 3 hip exercises that you can start today.
Side Plank: Hold 3x60 seconds
Fire Hydrants: Try for 3x20 repetitions with a band at the knees.
Reverse Monster Walk: Try for 3x20 steps
Bonus tip: Tight calves are another big cause for injury. Show your calves some love with a foam roller a couple of times per week.
The best way to avoid injury is to be proactive about training your weak areas. When it comes to running injury, waiting until you are injured to see an expert is likely to land you with more workouts missed. To optimize performance and reduce injury risk, look for a facility that will perform a video analysis of your gait, and make sure that they are willing and able to discuss that analysis with you and give you a clear plan of attack.
Read more information from Tom Padilla at https://thedoctorsofpt.com