As a marathon runner, I realize the importance of staying healthy and on the road. I get asked frequently by runners about pain they are experiencing in different areas and what can they do to prevent injuries. I have presented this topic for numerous local running clinics and thought I would share with all of you!
For this blog, I will be talking about the 7 most common injuries, the pain associated with them, and helpful stretches. In a future blog, we can talk about how to strengthen the muscles to help prevent and correct injuries. Both stretching and strengthening are equally important to any regime.
If you are unsure about injuries and would like to get a better understanding of potential causes, whether it is muscle imbalances or spinal mis-alignments, please talk to your health care professional.
Moving into stretches should be done slowly and carefully to avoid further aggravation. You should feel a stretch but not to the point of pain. Stretches should be done to both sides of the body where applicable. Build your ability to hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds gradually…and remember to breath!
The 7 most common injuries!
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Hamstring Tendonitis/Tendinosis
- Hip flexor Strain
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome
- Patellofemoral Syndrome
- Sacro-Iliac Joint Syndrome/Glut Dysfunction
1. Achilles Tendonitis
- The Achilles tendon is a very thick tendon that attaches the calf muscles to the heel.
- Pain is generally felt just above the heel or behind the heel.
Using a wall, place both hands on the wall and bring the affected leg back. Push your heel to the floor with a straight leg, while bending your elbows and leaning into the wall.
To stretch the Soleus (a deeper muscle of the calf), follow the same steps as above but bend your knee while keeping your heel toward the floor.
2. Plantar Fasciitis
- The plantar Fascia is located underneath your foot and attaches from the inside of your heel to the front of your foot.
- Pain is generally felt on the bottom inside of your heel and sometimes along the inside of your arch.
- Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning (taking your first step out of bed) or standing up after sitting for a period of time.
- Often times the fascia can become strained due to dropped arches. If the arch of the foot continues to drop with each step, and keep in mind the impact while running is 2.5 times your body weight, the fascia will continue to tug on your heel where it attaches and can lead to plantar fasciitis.
Same as the Achilles tendonitis stretch.
Add a stretch before getting out of bed each day. Simply cross the affected leg over the other and with your hand, stretch your toes upwards towards your shin.
3. Hamstring Tendonitis/Tendinosis
- The hamstring attaches from your sit-bone to the back of your knee.
- Pain is generally felt underneath the buttock area, in the sit-bone.
From a standing position, take the affected leg forward and sit back with your pelvis while keeping your back in neutral and keeping your chest up. The affected leg will be straight with the toes pointing upwards supporting your hands on the unaffected bent leg. Sit further back to deepen the stretch.
4. Iliotibial Band Syndrome/Trochanteric Bursitis
- The IT band is a thick band of fascia extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee and inserting just below the knee. The fascia starts off as the gluteus maximus (posteriorly) and the Tensor Fascia Latea (Anteriorly) and those two muscles join together to make this long tight fascia down the leg.
- The pain is generally felt on the outside of the knee. The pain can also be felt along the entire length of the IT band as well as the top of the pelvis, causing pain and acute tenderness on the outer side of the hip (Trochanteric Bursitis).
- IT band Syndrome can lead to knee pain OR hip pain (better know as Trochanteric Bursitis).
Stand upright and cross the affected leg behind the other. Lean away from the injury (toward the other side of your body) until you feel a stretch on the outside of the back leg. To deepen the stretch you can reach you arm over your head while gliding your hips even further to the side.
5. Hip Flexor Strain/Iliopsoas Syndrome
- The iliopsoas is a muscle that attaches to all 5 lumbar vertebrae, the pelvis, and it inserts on the top of the inner leg (femur).
- Because this muscle originates from all 5 vertebra, this can contribute to pain in the low back.
- Pain can be felt in the low back or along its pathway through the groin.
- You may notice those who have tight hip flexors will have excessive anterior tilt.
Placing the affected leg behind you and the opposite leg bent in front of you at a 90-degree angle. The most important point here is to create a posterior pelvic tilt (thrust your pelvis froward…like the king of pop…Micheal Jackson!) by squeezing your buttock muscles and engaging your abdominal muscles. To deepen the stretch raise your arm above your head and lean away from the back leg.
6. Quadricep Strain/Knee pain
- The quadriceps muscle attaches from your pelvis to your knee.
- Pain is commonly felt in either the muscle belly or just above your knee.
Stand upright and bring the affected leg back while holding onto your ankle. Maintain a neutral pelvis, slight posterior tilt and keep your knees close together. Please hold onto something if you need help with balance.
7. Sacroiliac Joint Syndrome/Glut Dysfunction
- The sacrum is the bone that lies underneath your lumbar spine and just above the tailbone. The sacrum and the Iliac bones, located on the left and right side of your pelvis, join together on both sides to form the Sacro-iliac joints.
- Sacroiliac joint pain can be felt in various parts through your lower body, including the spine, locally in the SI joints themselves (those little bony protrusions you feel on both sides of your low back), buttocks, hips, groin, legs and even as far as the knee. For more severe SI joint dysfunctions, the pain can be felt as far down as the foot.
While standing, cross the affected leg over the other so the foot is on the opposite knee. Lower your body while bending the bottom leg. Make sure to your back is flat, pushing your buttocks towards the back and keeping your chest up.