The Jersey Shore has so many places to run, from the parks, streets and board walks. With warmer weather comes the motivation to get outside and shed off some winter weight. It’s a great idea to get the body moving and although there are many overall health benefits from running there is equally as many chances of getting injured. The repetitive nature with running can wear down muscles, tendons, joints and bones. Here at Critical Mass in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, we deal with some HS runners and Masters runners and it’s pretty obvious to us what happens when:
- running on a hard surface
- not warming up properly
- not eating enough to fuel your runs
- not resting enough to recover/rebuild the body
- not following a progressive strength/weightlifting adaption program
- not following a progressive running adaption program
Each of the above bullet points can set you back weeks and maybe even months on the path to dominate your running workouts!
Overall the biggest complaint with running is knee pain.
“Be Kind to Your Knees, You’ll Miss Them When They are GONE!”
The most prevalent cause of knee pain is the PatelloFemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS). PPS occurs on the front of the knee. Think of it as tendinitis. Little tears accompanied by inflammation. Fun stuff. Did you know that performing slow eccentric barbell squats (with weight) can help alleviate the pain and help promote healing? Don’t be afraid of lifting as a runner. It’s essential for success.
The next common injury is the Iliotibial Band Syndrome, which is the pain you would feel radiate on the outside of the leg/knee. This could travel from the hip all the way down to the outside of the knee. Performing active release or for the cheaper athlete, self foam rolling the area can help reduce pain and promote normalized locomotion. If you plan on running for life… foam rolling will be a part of your warm up. Trust me it will!
Other problems that can flare up are Achilles Tendinitis and Plantar Fascitis. Achilles Tendinitis is the pain you would feel at the back of the heel and can travel up into the calf. This can be devastating if you tear it. You would be living the CRUTCH life and your arm pits will not appreciate that! The Achilles would 1) need rest 2) need ice 3) need a few treatments of active release within the calf to help reduce the tension and irritation you would feel at the back of the heel. Plantar Fascitis is the muscle that runs along the bottom of the foot. Want to warm that up? Roll a lacrosse ball under your foot and after running; roll it out again on a frozen water bottle.
I come across many athletes that experience shin splints and not just runners. Anything with repetitive running, start stops and playing surface can jack up your bony shins. The scientific name is called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome and are small stress fractures. These can be painful as all HELL! Always ice the shins after a run. Get a dixie cup, add water, freeze. After frozen, peel off some of the top of the cup revealing the ice. Hold the cup by the bottom and run that bad boy over and over your shins. Better yet, get a 30 gallon trash can, add water and ice, and then submerge your legs in it for 10-15 minutes!
These are the main culprits that can limit your running. There are many more that can hinder your progress from hip flexor issues, hip joint issues, hamstring issues, lower back/SI Joint issues. The list goes on. At some point something will go. It’s going to be up to you to limit this from happening and when it does, know the proper way to recover.
How can you decrease your chances of getting these injuries? You have to realize that you will get them at some point. Your job is to listen to the body and give it:
- PROPER NUTRITION (Make sure you are eating enough food that will help fuel your workouts and recover from them!)
- WEIGHT TRAINING (Do I need to go into this? The best runners in the world follow a weight lifting progam)
- PREHAB EXERCISES & TREATMENT (This could be warming up before a run, stretching/running drills/foam roll)
- POST INJURY TREATMENT (Active Release Therapy, icing, CryoTherapy, proper cool downs)
- MEDICATIONS (Pain relievers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- EQUIPMENT (choosing the proper shoe, taping, possibly orthotics. Check out our neighbors at Road Runner Sports in Shrewsbury NJ or Runners High in Freehold and Metuchen NJ )
- REST! (Alternating running surfaces, taking rest days, getting enough sleep, cutting down mileage)