Running Tips for Success
By: Jason Robinet, MPT
Many times avid runners come into our office with complaints of pain or limitations and their first question is, “When can I get back out there and put a few miles on?” As a PT, I have always loved working with runners in general as they are typically self motivated, competitive, and have a willingness to do what it takes to get back to running. I frequently make the comment that I’d rather pull back on the reins than try to spur the horse into running.
By nature, running is a repetitive activity that typically creates issues with muscles and tendons getting overworked and irritated when issues arise. Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, even glute/hip pointers are examples of this problem. Our question when evaluating runners is always “Why”. Frequently the answer is found in muscle imbalance. For PT’s that describes when a group of muscles aren’t working together properly, creating stress/strain to one specific muscle. For example, the glutes work for push off and back with the hip joint, but if the glutes aren’t working properly, the hamstring muscles try to take up the slack. The hamstrings help to push off as well but also help to bend the knee. However, the hamstrings are less than half the size of the glutes and have trouble doing both. That is why you tend to see a lot of hamstring strains or pulls in runners, especially sprinters.
The majority of the dysfunctions that we see in the clinic are related to hip and glute weakness. How often do you hear people talking about, “My glutes don’t fire correctly”, which is a reference to the hip not engaging correctly during push off. The quads and calf muscles are the powerhouse of the legs and tend to get irritated due to overworking but the glutes and hip flexor muscles tend to be the ones that “turn off” or “don’t fire” correctly, creating compensations from surrounding muscles.
Runners tend to stretch their quads, calves, and hamstrings; but, they frequently don’t stretch the glutes (especially gluteus medius) or the hip flexor muscles enough. Be sure to hit those muscles during your stretching program to help avoid muscle soreness and imbalance. But if those muscles don’t respond to stretching or your problem persists, please take advantage of our free consultation program to allow our physical therapists to do a full analysis of your body to determine the deep root cause of your problem and help you to make a plan to resolve it. Simply call our offices in Rockford and Greenville and ask for a free consultation appointment to get you back on track and Be Your Best.