We run to get into shape. But do we get into shape so we can run?!?
Running can be a great activity for stress relief, conditioning or weight loss. But few activities we do as humans have such a repetitive nature that can take a little problem and turn it into a large one. Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, tendonitis and bursitis, stress fractures, iliotibial band syndrome (IT Band) and general aches and pains can all limit our enjoyment of running. But there are things we can do to minimize our risk of injury.
Keeping our hips, knees, ankles and our big toes mobile are very important to keeping a nice smooth stride. Otherwise we limp, gallop or hobble across the tundra, and eventually start breaking down and hurting. Mobility is essential to moving normally, but without the strength to balance it out, we are setting ourselves up for trouble as well. We need to have strong ankles, knees, hips and a strong core to protect our joints and to handle all those miles.
The way we hold our head, swing our arms and even breathe while we run are also important. They are not thought of as often, so can be ignored. But these are important parts of the running pattern too and need to be looked at and addressed if they are problematic. Physical therapists are experts in movement and can help you address your aches and pains and keep you running.
Visiting a physical therapist before you begin a new running program or change your current running program can also alert you to potential issues that may lead to injury. Through a thorough examination and movement assessment, your therapist can guide your strengthening and mobility routine, adjust your activities and keep your fitness program headed in the right direction. And as always, any activity can have its risk of injury, and injuries do occur! If an injury does occur, don’t give up on running! See your physical therapist, get back in shape, and get back to running!