"Injury Prevention and Treatment; It's What You Know and Who You Know"|
by Mindy Solkin
As marathoners, it's a word we just don't want to hear. INJURY. After all our hard training efforts, it doesn't seem fair that our bodies should respond in such a negative way. But along the way, were there any tell-tale signs that something wasn't right? Perhaps we should have stuck to the training schedule and maybe not added extra mileage to the already full calendar. Or maybe the dull ache at the 5th mile of a 10-mile run should have told us to stop and not run through the pain. But Type A's that most of us are, we push through.
Although running is a bilateral sport, most injuries are one-sided problems. Pain and symptoms are the effects of the injury, while the cause can come from internal factors, your "biomechanics" (how you run), as well as external factors, "the environment and your personal training habits". Also, keep in mind that the cause of your injury can be totally different from the cause of someone else's who has the same injury. Below find these factors explained, plus the five most common running injuries, their specific causes, and their treatments.
INTERNAL/BIOMECHANICAL FACTORS THAT CAUSE RUNNING INJURIES
- How your foot lands: overpronation, underpronation, severe heel striker, toe runner
- Strength and flexibility imbalances from the left side of the body to the right side: such as one leg stronger or more flexible than the other
- Muscle imbalances from the front of the body to the back of the body: such as tight calves and weak shins
- Structural imbalances: such as one leg shorter than the other or bowlegs
- An increased Q-angle (the angle that is formed from the outside of the hip to the inside of the knee) found mainly in women (because of wider pelvises for childbirth) which causes knock-knees
EXTERNAL/ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS THAT CAUSE RUNNING INJURIES
- Number of miles run on a daily and weekly basis
- Overtraining or undertraining
- Type of shoes and amount of mileage run in them
- Surface you run on: crowned roads and uneven surfaces
- Type of runs: hills vs. flat, slow vs. fast
- Weather conditions
THE FIVE MOST COMMON RUNNING INJURIES
- ACHILLES TENDINITIS: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon caused by tight calves, inflexible running shoes and overpronation. If ignored, it can develop into a partial or full rupture.
- CHONDROMALACIA: A softening, wearing away, or cracking of the cartilage under the kneecap. The cartilage becomes like sandpaper because the kneecap is not riding smoothly over the knee. Causes are weak quadriceps muscles, an imbalance between weak quads and tight hamstrings, and overpronation.
- ILIOTIBIAL BAND SYNDROME: Inflammation and pain on the outer thigh from the knee to the hip. The band, or ligament, rubs against the large thigh bone, the femur. Bowlegs, overpronation, worn-out running shoes, excessive downhill running, and running on indoor, banked surfaces are the main culprits.
- PLANTAR FASCIITIS: Inflammation of the fascia located on the bottom of the foot, running from the heel to the base of the toes. Runners with tight Achilles tendons, high arches, rigid feet, and inflexible running shoes are most susceptible.
- SHIN SPLINTS: Tendonitis on the front of the lower leg. Tired or inflexible calf muscles, weak shins, overstriding, overpronation and running on hard surfaces such as concrete sidewalks are to blame.
- The RICE method of rest, ice, compression, elevation
- Stretching and strengthening
- Cutting back on your running and crosstraining instead
- Sports massage
- Applying cryotherapy creams such as capsaicin or menthol
- Wearing orthotics or heel lifts
- PHYSIATRIST: Often called the sports medicine doctors of the future, these doctors practice non-invasive treatments using physical therapy methods. Many physiatrists also have a holistic approach and incorporate non-traditional treatments such as acupuncture and magnetic therapy.
- CHIROPRACTOR: Often, chiropractors work in tandem with physiatrists. They too practice non-invasive treatments and perform spinal manipulations to relieve pain and keep the body aligned and in balance.
- PODIATRIST: Foot doctors who can also perform gait analysis and check for biomechanical imbalances. Most notably they make orthotics, a device made from the cast of your foot that is then placed into your shoe to correct imbalances.
- ORTHOPEDIST: These doctors are sometimes considered a last-resort specialist because of an association with surgery. Today, however, many of these doctors are taking the path of the above three specialists by practicing non-invasive techniques, as well.
Mindy Solkin is the Owner and Head Coach of The Running CenterTM. She is
certified by USA Track & Field (USATF) as a Level III Running Coach (the
highest level) and by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a personal
Known as "Coach Mindy" to her runners, she has coached thousands of people
over the past ten years, helping them to achieve their goals on the open
roads and the winding trail, whether it is running their first mile or
pursuing their personal best in the marathon.
Mindy was the creator of the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society's Team In Training
marathon program in New York City and served as its Head Coach from 1994
through 2001. From 1995 through 2002 training over 3,000 runners to run marathons in cities around the world, Mindy was the Head Coach at Reebok
Sports Club/NY. She is also the creator of the Polar Heart Bra® and has been
a PowerBar® Team Elite athlete since 1994. She can be reached at