I usually run outside all year long, but summer is truly my favorite time for outdoor workouts. In Minnesota especially, we like to get out and enjoy what we can of the warm weather and sun. With many athletes training for upcoming races, I thought it might be a good idea to turn to Dr. Renata Evertz for expert advice on avoiding injuries while running/training. Dr. Evertz is a licensed Chiropractor with Spine and Sports Institute in Maple Grove, MN.
Running Injuries & Injury Prevention
By Dr. Renata Evertz, DC
Running, done correctly, can be an excellent workout to keep muscles toned, promote cardiovascular health, relieve stress, & boost your overall immune function. There are injuries runners commonly face & many actions athletes can take to prevent these injuries.
Injuries can occur intrinsically, if the athlete has muscular imbalances that cause weakness in the body, skeletal misalignments creating asymmetries, & inflexibilities creating restrictions in muscle range of motion. Injuries can also occur in athletes extrinsically. These extrinsic factors include running on a new surface (i.e. track, trail, road), new shoes or shoes that are beyond their miles, change in running technique, diet/nutrition deficiencies, or overtraining. The most common pattern of overtraining is too much training, too soon of an increase in miles, with too many consecutive days of training.
Four complaints or injuries that commonly plague runners are Patellar Tendonitis (also know as Jumper’s knee), Iliotibial Band (ITB) Friction Syndrome, Trochanteric Bursitis, & Plantar Fasciitis.
Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee) affects the tendon that attaches the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (shin bone). It is an essential tendon for athletes that jump or propel off their legs. Symptoms include sharp or deep aching pain that presents directly below the kneecap with running, walking, or going up hill/stairs. The pain may be hard to pinpoint at times & the runner may experience swelling or tenderness below the kneecap.
Iliotibial Band (ITB) Friction Syndrome affects the fascia or connective tissue that runs from the hip down the side of the thigh. It connects around the knee & helps assist with bending of the knee. Symptoms of ITBFS include sharp or aching pain on the outside of the knee that is worse with running, walking, or going down hill/stairs. The runner may experience some swelling at the lateral knee with pinpoint tenderness.
Trochanteric Bursitis presents as pain on the outside aspect of the hip. Various muscles attach to the side of the hip, especially the glute muscles. A bursa is a fluid filled sac that helps lubricate a joint of bony prominence so that tendons can smoothly glide over them. When the muscles that slide over the bursa are shortened (inflexible), weakened, or overused the bursa can become irritated & inflamed. Symptoms of bursitis include deep, boring pain that is worse with running, sitting for long period & then standing up, or side sleeping on the inflamed bursa.
Plantar Fasciitis affects the fascia that connects from the heel bone to the bottom of the toes. The arch at the bottom of the foot is most often affected in acute cases but the pain can present at the heel as well. The pain can be sharp or achy, often most painful the first few steps in the morning as well as during & after a workout.
Many athletes are able to avoid these injuries by doing a few simple things. Runners should research running plans or ask their health provider or athletic trainers to assist them. Proper plans gradually build distance/speeds & vary the distances each week so that the runner is only incorporating one “distance” run per week. Another major injury prevention step is to cross train. The injuries previously described can occur due to overuse. Running ever other day with cross training in between not only gives your body rest but it also provides varied exercises that help build speed & strength with less adaptation from the muscles. Lastly, stretching or lengthening of the muscles is a key component to injury prevention. Muscles should always be stretched after a warmed up. A quick 5-8 minute warm up getting the heart rate increased is adequate. A proper five-minute cool down after exercise followed by stretching is very important for muscle recovery. Each stretch should be held for 30-60 seconds. Muscles runners should focus on stretching include the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors, & calf muscles.
If sharp or nagging pain persists for an extended period of time, the runner should contact their sports specialist. The PRICE protocol of protect, rest, ice, compression, & elevation is always a good form of at home care. Alternative forms of treatment such as sports chiropractic, muscle release techniques, & sports acupuncture can provide non-invasive techniques that give relief & healing the runner needs.
Dr. Renata Evertz, DC, is a licensed chiropractor who graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University with her chiropractic degree. Prior to completing her doctorate of chiropractic, Dr. Evertz received her bachelor degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Bemidji State University. Dr. Evertz is committed to providing specialized, individualized, and innovative treatment methodologies to her patients. Her focus is to provide relief of initial injuries as well as to focus on preventative measures to maintain the patient’s relieved state. The goal of treatment is to provide long-lasting outcomes and to resolve the patient’s symptoms. Dr. Evertz understands the importance of patient education to empower patients to take charge of their health. Dr. Evertz is excited to be apart of the Spine & Sports Institute team and to work with her co-workers to provide the leading care in sports medicine.