Many people often overlook incorporating regular bodywork when they begin a running program. Stretching, Active Release Technique (ART), massage and chiropractic all have incredible benefits that should not be disregarded. As we approach spring, and many of you will be increasing your mileage, or may even be taking up running for the first time, I want to share with you the difference between prevention and rehabilitation.
I know it’s difficult to be proactive when you are not in any pain and your running gait “feels” good. But consider the alternative: rehabilitation. Compared to other sports, running is less expensive when you consider the minimal gear required to participate. Until things go wrong. By ignoring regular bodywork, a cheap sport can quickly become expensive. Shin splints, patellar tracking issues, IT band and foot pain can all stop you from doing what you love. So how did you get here? And how did your great running program get sidelined?
Rehabilitation is not the preferred way to go but it is the most common. Here is what can happen during a Rehabilitation Program:
- Stop running.
- Treatments are more painful due to injured tissues.
- Healing times are longer and frustrating.
- Potential loss of sleep due to pain.
- Changing your plans for the rest of the season.
- Psychological issues like depression can set in.
- Potential surgery with 8-10 weeks healing followed by months of physical therapy.
Prevention is the preferred route, so let’s outline some things you can do to keep running all season with great form and injury free.
First, learn how to do it. Sign up for a program like the Good Form Running clinic atThe Footzone. Running is more than just walking really fast. It takes good technique to run well and without pain.
Secondly, stretching is a key piece of your training that should never be ignored. Including a regular stretching program that is running specific will help you be stronger and have more endurance. I know we all have a friend who never stretches. Here’s why that’s a bad idea: tight muscles with a shortened range of motion simply cannot lengthen fully or contract with the power of a muscle that has full range of motion. Additionally the loads placed on the joints are increased due to the shorter range, and the joints wear out faster. The best time to stretch is after you have warmed up. However, you can stretch when you are cold, but you want to hold each stretch for a maximum of 30 seconds. If you are warmed up, try to hold the stretch for a full minute. Always stretch until you feel a pull, not a pain! If you feel pain when you are stretching, back off a bit. Try to make stretching part of your daily routine.
Active Release Technique (ART) is a soft tissue balancing technique where the provider and patient work together using specific protocols to treat the tight, stuck, or injured tissues. Runners around the world recognize ART as the go-to therapy for their specific sport. Unfortunately, I treat many people in my practice after they have pushed themselves too far, and have created an injury that could have been avoided if they had seen me before it became debilitating. Consider trying ART before you add too many miles of training. I provide video analysis for every runner who comes into my office. By shooting video I can see what is happening with your gait and set up a performance treatment plan to sort out running imbalances before they become major problems.
My performance running plan includes:
- Two ART sessions per month to balance the load on your joints so you move efficiently.
- Custom stretching program.
- Video Gait Analysis with follow-up reviews.
Additionally, massage done on a monthly basis after a race, or a large training distance, can help flush your legs and get you back on your feet faster. Chiropractic is also a great tool to help mobilize the body. Sometimes joints get stuck and need a little push in the right direction. Seek out a sports chiropractor to make sure you are receiving the right care.
Prevention has its benefits, as you can see from the list below:
- Keep running and improve your gait, strength and endurance injury free.
- Treatments do not hurt; they feel great like a reward.
- You sleep great; regular exercise reduces stress so you can sleep better.
- You can plan your summer events and actually attend them.
- You will be in a great mood due to all those endorphins in your blood.
- The only time you will see your orthopedist is at the store.
- Not expensive. Priceless!
Now you know. Prevention is the way to go!