Nagging Running Pains and How to Fix Them

Today’s blog is a special entry for all you runners out there. We know you love to run, and we also know you value fitness and health. Running has become, for you, a metaphor for life: determination, mobility, and freedom. And yet, for some of you reading our blog right now, this might not be the case anymore. An injury may have gotten you down: your morning run just isn’t the same anymore, and that nagging feeling in your leg/knee/ankle/calf just doesn’t seem to be going away. Well, if that sounds familiar, we have a serious question for you: why are you running away from your injury? All too many people run away from physical therapy in the hope that the pain will disappear on its own. Some even run through the pain just to avoid being told that they have to take it easy, stop, or rest for a little while. The truth is, running away from the pain honestly doesn’t make it better – you may know this by now. In this post, we chat about what it means to have irritating, sometimes frustrating running injuries, and what can be done about them… if you make the right choices for your health!
Before we get to running injuries, let’s start with some of the best reasons to run:
·         It strengthens your heart muscles.
·         It decreases the risk of heart attacks.
·         It lessens the chance of suffering a stroke.
·         It builds stamina.
·         It reduces stress.
·         It helps you maintain a healthy body wright.
·         It strengthens your body overall.

So, with all these benefits, who wouldn’t want to run! No one is suggesting that you stop running. It’s precisely because of these amazing advantages that we would never dream of asking you to stop. We don’t want that for you. What we do want, however, is for you take care of your injuries so as to enjoy your runs just as you used to… or perhaps ever more so!
That having been said, let’s take a look at some running injuries – some of which you may even be experiencing right now. Keep in mind that running-related injuries don’t necessary go hand-in-hand with a serious fall; this is an idea you might possibly be used to believing. Many of these aches occur over time, slowly, and incrementally, and it is for that reason that so many runners avoid treatment. Take a look at the injuries we mean:

Joint Wear and Tear
This type of injury occurs after a prolonged period of running on hard terrain, poor running form, and/or using incorrect footwear. Wear and tear also occurs, not due to any fault of the runner, but simply because of years of intensive use of the joints themselves.

Plantar Fasciitis
This is a condition characterized by the inflammation of tissue running the length of your foot’s underside, from your heel through to your toes. Heel and arch pain are very common symptoms.

Shin Splints
This common injury occurs when the muscles and bone tissue around your shinbone experience micro-tears as a result of physical activity.  Heel striking can also be a contributing factor because the muscle on the shin has to work harder to control your foot falls with each step.  Not to mention the braking effect as well.

Achilles Tendonitis
Here, the Achilles tendon – which connects the calf muscle to the heal bone – is injured.  Calf tightness, running form, or too much too soon can lead to stressing the Achilles too much.

Hamstring Strain
This occurs when the large muscles and tendons at the back of the thigh are incorrectly warmed-up – a tear or strain may occur.  Hamstring injuries can also occur to overstretching the hamstring with sprinting or even poor muscle recruitment associated with poor form.

Shin, Foot, and Heel Stress Fractures
Severe bruising or cracks within these three areas as a result of intense, poorly practiced physical activity.  Too much too soon, poor footwear, and run form can lead to overstressing these structures.

Runner’s Knee
This is characterized by pain around the patella, that is, the kneecap.

Pulled Muscles
Strained, overworked muscles that were probably not warmed up sufficiently or overworked due to unaccustomed mileage or intensity of effort.

IT Band Injury
This is characterized by the continuous overuse of the knee and thigh: connective tissue begins to rub against the thigh bone.  In addition to overuse, muscle imbalances, poor muscular recruitment and poor running form contribute to this issue.

Ankle Sprain
This injury typically occurs when the ankle is forced into an awkward position, thus injuring the muscles and tendons: usually occurs via rolling or twisting the foot.  Stepping off a curb, a root or into a hole…yes, they hurt.

If you’ve experience one, or even several of the above, then you know how painful and frustrating these injuries can be. You’ve most likely suffered from a variety of their symptoms, including:
·         Swelling
·         Severe, Jabbing Pain
·         Popping or Cracking Noises
·         Nagging, Underlying Pain
          Inability to Run due to Pain in Shins, Feet, Knees,
          or Heels Frustration!

If this sounds like you, and you’re currently feeling a little low, then it’s time to take action. The best thing you can do, right now, is to contact a professional, hands-on physical therapist. Physical therapy does so much more than mask the pain: with a hands-on physical therapist, you will receive a permanent solution to your problem. By treating the root cause of the discomfort, thereby treating the injury itself, physical therapy allows you to get back to running without the stress of a nagging, recurring, debilitating injury. Moreover, physical therapy gives you the tools to maintain a pain-free lifestyle via tailor-made exercises designed to target your particular issue. Physical therapy allows you to get back to running while feeling healthier, fitter, and more enthusiastic than ever before. In addition, a physical therapist will also:

–  Eliminate your pain.|
–  Increase your range of motion.
–  Increase you flexibility and strength.
–  Help you choose proper footwear, thereby giving you tools to avoid another injury.
–  Give your invaluable advice on how to stay hydrated, how to keep good posture, and how to maintain a pain-free exercise routine.

  Once we get you back up and running, we will check your running form (with our eyes, tools, and know how) and give you the knowledge and tools to help you minimize your risk for further injury.
If you think that you’re suffering from a running injury, you’re feeling fed-up with below-par morning training routines, and/or you’re just sick and tired of waiting for the pain to disappear, then we urge you to contact us today. A physical therapist will help you determine your exact issue; we will treat the root cause, thereby getting you back to the well-known path in no time. We want to see you running again, and it is our goal to make that happen.
Still not convinced? That’s ok! We understand that it might be difficult to come in and see a physical therapist, and that’s why we’re offering a FREE running consultation session. Yes, that’s right. During this session, we’ll answer all your questions, discuss your options, and give you peace of mind. You’ve got nothing to lose! Ask about our free running consultation session to find out how we can help you get back on the road or trail in no time – chat with us, today!  Text “RUNFREE” to (703) 650-8824 to set up an appointment.

Dr. Jamie So

Jamie So, PT, DPT, is the owner and physical therapist of Manual Therapy Effects.

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