Running techniques to race fast and remain injury-free.

This is the time of year where you are starting to ramp up your training for triathlons and running races. It has been shown that as many as 80% of runners sustain a running-related injury in a given year. So what are the reasons for so many running injuries? And how can they be avoided?

Training schedule, running technique, and tissue strength/tolerance are three major determinants as to whether or not you will be sidelined with an injury this season.

Here are more detailed explanations of the three common causes for injury:

Too much too soon. An overly ambition training schedule is a classic mistake. It is believed that as much as 80% of running injuries occur because of training errors. An easy to follow guideline is the 10% rule: avoid increasing your running mileage more than 10% from the previous week.

Poor or inefficient running technique. A potential cause for injury is technique, or rather, a poor technique. It can result in too much impact too quickly (vertical loading rate) as you land. A high vertical loading rate can be caused by any of all of the following: heel striking with your foot too far in front of your hips (over-striding), a lack of bend in your knee or hip during landing, a lack of strength in core/hip musculature to help absorb impact. Instead, gradual increased training in a flatter/minimalist shoe (to reduce heel striking), increasing step cadence to approximately 180 steps per minute, and aiming to land softer or ‘quieter’ are all ways of reducing tissue overload.
Core and hip muscle weakness. It has been shown that a lack of gluteal muscle strength can lead to increased stress on the knee and foot, resulting in a greater chance of tissue breakdown. Taking part in a consistent individualized strengthening program throughout the year can be a key component to avoiding injury.

Remember, don’t wait until minor aches and pains turn into significant injury. Every runner is different, so book an appointment with Sun City Physiotherapy to determine how best to avoid injury this season.  Call 250-861-8056 to book your appointment today.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Running

Running is a popular activity that can help maintain or improve your cardiovascular fitness and in some cases help you lose weight. There are many different reasons to run but often there is a goal set that may include 5Km, 10Km, half marathon, or full marathon.
When training for longer runs including 10km, half and full marathons it is important to remember that the training schedule should take place over long periods of time to allow your muscles and joints to accommodate for the increased strain that will be placed on them during the long run. As a physiotherapist, I treat many runners with all sorts of injuries. Some of the most common injuries include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, muscle strains, and Iliotibial band friction syndrome (IT band syndrome).
IT band syndrome is a repetitive stress injury that occurs when the iliotibial band glides over the lateral femoral condyle on the outside part of the knee. The iliotibial band is the thick band that runs from the outside of the hip down to the outside of the knee. It is a common injury for long distance runners (20-40 miles/week) but is not limited to only long distance runners. Running on various terrains can increase the risk of developing this condition. Up and down hills, graded slopes, and cambered roads have all been shown to increase the risk. This syndrome may also be found in other athletes or weekend warriors such as cyclists, weight lifters, and participants in jumping sports.
With IT band syndrome there is rarely a history of trauma. Patients will often complain of knee pain that may be difficult to localize and usually increases with repetitive motions like running. The symptoms usually get worse with changes in training surfaces, increasing mileage, or training on crowned roads.
Studies have found that long distance runners with IT band syndrome have weaker hip abductor and glut muscles on the involved leg compared to the uninvolved leg. The hip abductor muscles are located on the outside part of the hip and help prevent the leg from moving towards the centre of the body. It is also noted that fatigued runners are more prone to having their hip adduct (move towards the centre) and internally rotate (leg turns inwards) which causes more friction on the iliotibial band and therefore the symptoms get worse.
The management of IT band syndrome usually includes: 1) activity modification (usually decreasing mileage). 2) New running shoes. Shoes should be replaced about every 500km. 3) Heat or ice. 4) Stretching the IT band. 5) Strengthening the hip abductors and glut muscles.
If you are interested in pursuing long distance running you should: 1) follow a certified training schedule. 2) Make sure the shoes you are wearing are the right shoes for you. 3) Increase your mileage slowly to allow your body to accommodate for the increased strain. 4) Hit the gym – muscle weakness can cause problems down the road. 5) Go in for an assessment with a health care professional if you start to experience aches and pains that aren’t going away.

Shin Splints by Sun City Physiotherapy

With the start of a new year, you may have made New Year resolutions to start running, or to take your running to the next level by completing your first marathon or half marathon. There are many factors to consider when you start to run or train for longer races. One major consideration is to avoid injuries. Shin splints are a common injury that physiotherapists see in clinic.

Shin splints are an umbrella term used to describe pain and discomfort in either the front or back portion of your shin. It usually presents in the lower 1/3 of the leg in the muscles around the tibia (shin bone). It typically has a dull ache but can be sharp and severe pain. Shin splints often start at the beginning of the workout, it may or may not disappear during the workout, and then returns after you finish your workout. Patients may also complain of soreness to touch and swelling.

Shin splints are often associated with running injuries, especially for long distance runners, novice runners, overzealous fitness fanatics, and for those just increasing hill training. You may also see it with dancers, tennis players, basketball players, or high divers, but it is not exclusive to these athletes.

Some of the major causes of shin splints include: changes in running surface and terrain, changes in training regimes, poor foot or ankle biomechanics, poor running mechanics, muscle imbalances, being overweight, or unconditioned athletes doing too much, too fast.

Typically your healthcare professional will want to rule out several conditions with the most serious being stress fractures and compartment syndrome. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment usually starts out conservatively with ice, ultrasound, and interferential current to control pain and swelling. Your doctor may also try to control inflammation with the use of some medications. There will be discussions about activity modifications such as no hill running. There may be other treatments to try such as taping or orthotics, and your physiotherapist may focus on some stretching and strengthening exercises. If conservative treatment does not appear to be helping, aggressive treatment may be considered. This may include a cessation of activity altogether, immobilization, or in some cases, surgery.

Recovery from this injury can be long and frustrating and it can really impede your goals – whether that includes getting back in shape or completing your first marathon. So remember to progress your training at a reasonable rate and make changes in your routine slowly. Happy running!