How to Prevent Running Injuries

How to Prevent Running Injuries

runners celebrating competing pain free after chiropractic treatment.

Running has become one of the most common forms of physical activity in today’s society. It can be a personal challenge, a community building activity (such as parkruns and fun runs) and most importantly a great work out. It is a sport that everyone can participate in – all you need is a good pair of shoes and a little motivation. That being said, running can be extremely hard on the body, especially when you are just getting started. We are finding at our chiropractic clinic in Surrey that injuries among runners are very common. From shin splints to rolled ankles, no one is immune to getting hurt. However, here are some tips to keep you healthy and on pace:

 

Do Not Do Too Much, Too Fast

When runners are just starting out and beginning to make progress, they tend to push their limits. While this is a great way to challenge yourself, it is important that you understand your body has a threshold. When this threshold gets exceeded, an injury will occur.

You should track your mileage on a daily and weekly basis. If you haven’t done much long-distance running before, your weekly mileage should begin quite low.

As you start seeing improvements, make sure any increase in weekly mileage occurs gradually rather than too quickly. A consensus among the running community is the rule of 10% – do not increase your mileage by more than 10% on a week to week basis. For many new runners, even 10% may be too much of a jump to begin with.

Like any general rules, the 10% rule isn’t applicable to everyone, and individualisation of running programmes still needs to occur. Despite this, when preparing for a distance run, it is recommended to start training as early as possible so the weekly mileage can be increased very slowly. A recent study showed that runners who increased their mileage by 3% a week had a much higher chance of success in their upcoming races compared to those ramping up their mileage quicker. Could you train for and complete a half marathon in 6 weeks? Possibly, but the toll it could take on your body and the injury risk you expose yourself to probably isn’t worth it.

So how do you know where to start? For new runners, start with short runs and accumulate miles over the week. It is important to keep close track of how far each run was, so apps such as “Map My Run” or online trackers are very helpful. As you increase your mileage, listen to your body. If you increase one week and start feeling achey and sore, scale back the mileage again and increase more gradually.

Female runner tying her shoes before a run.

 

Do Not Run Through Significant Pain

Runners all understand that some discomfort is part of the sport. Your legs and feet especially will likely be sore after a long run. However, if you notice significant pain and discomfort while running, consider taking a break. Convincing a runner to take a break is akin to taking blood from a stone, but it can help to save runners from more severe injury. Apart from the occasional rolled ankle, running injuries are rarely acute and traumatic. Far more commonly runners ignore pain and train through discomfort, “toughing it out”.

This results in a cumulative injury cycle. What does this mean you ask? It means if you continue to stress an injury by running, you will continue to make it worse and it can become a much more significant injury. Sometimes all it takes is an extra day or two off when symptoms are minor to allow your body to recover fully. This is important because if you have an injury, it is very common for the body to adapt by altering your gait (running pattern).

This may lead to less efficient running, bad habit development or potentially an injury elsewhere in the body. If you are running with a limp, the biomechanical stresses will be placed on different parts of the body. Listen to your body and if a nagging pain is lingering, consider getting checked out by a medical professional. It is much more beneficial to have an injury taken care of with one or two sessions rather than letting it persist and having to deal with it when it is much more serious.

 

Cadence (Stride length)

Amateur runners may not think too much about their running technique beyond putting one foot in front of the other. However, one of the most common reasons for running pain developing is incorrect stride length, or cadence. This is especially common with pain in the shins or lower leg injuries. New research has demonstrated that when you take longer strides as you run, the ground reaction forces on your legs will be increased. This increased force may lead to more injuries and micro traumas that may lead to chronic injuries.

If you think that this may be affecting your ability to run pain-free, try taking some shorter runs and actively try to take shorter steps while you run. Your legs will have to move faster to maintain the same speed as before, but you will find that you are injured less often. It will take some time to retrain the brain to alter your running pattern, but with some commitment and regular training, you will be able to make the transition.

 

Warming up and Flexibility

As with any other sport, it is essential that you warm up appropriately. Stretching hasn’t been proven to alter injury rates. The best way to warm up is actually to increase your body temperature prior to running. On top of this, dynamic movements prior to running can decrease injury risk and improve performance. These dynamic movements are things such as forward lunges, leg kicks, knee raises, tip toe walking and heel to bum kicks. These exercises help to get blood flow to muscles and help prepare you to start running.

Watch this video for some more information:

Quick Tips

  • Stay hydrated! Water is essential all the time but especially when training regularly.

  • Fuel your body with nutrients. Protein will be very helpful to allow you to recover after running. Running burns calories too, so make sure you fuel your body with a varied diet including health fats, fruit and vegetables.

  • Consider strength training alongside running. A diverse workout plan can help to reduce injuries while running and actually help you run faster. The stronger you are, the easier it is to prevent injuries. In particular, consider strengthening your glutes and hamstrings to cope with the running load.

  • REST. Your body needs time to recover. Consider implementing active rest days in your programme. On these days you can go for a gentle walk or swim to give your body a break while training, allowing you to fully recover.

  • Consider visiting a sports injury centre such as Pro Chiro Spine and Sports Chiropractic Clinic. As your training gets more intense and recovery becomes more difficult, it may be worth having an MOT type check up from a sports chiropractor to make sure your body is working as it should. These visits can help pick up areas that are starting to succumb to overloading, helping to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Remember – prevention is always better than the cure.

Conclusion

There are many things that you can do to prevent injuries while training. These are just a starting point. Implement as many of these strategies into your routine as you can and you will be running pain-free in no time.

Sports Chiropractic Clinic in Surrey

Pro Chiro Spine and Sports Chiropractic is a sports chiropractic clinic in Surrey. We see people with all kinds of issues ranging from low back pain to sports injuries. The common link between our patients is they are frustrated with pain and injuries limiting them in life, and come to see us to take back control and live their lives without being limited by pain and injuries.

Live Your Best Life

Live Your Best Life

To live your best life. What does this really mean?

In today’s hectic world, it’s easy to go through life feeling like something’s missing. Sometimes we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all and start to feel like our life is lacking fulfilment and we aren’t living our best life. This can hit us in our work lives, in our social lives and even after returning home from a holiday. Many of us suffer from the “holiday blues”, but perhaps its more than just travelling home. What if the “holiday blues” were due to a feeling of “so what?” A feeling like the holiday lacked long term value and was just a short term distraction.

The pyramid of values help to live your best life.

Elements of Value

Some clever people at the Harvard Business Review have identified 30 “elements of value” – fundamental attributes addressing different needs. These elements trace their roots back to a “heirarchy of needs” created by psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1942. The elements of value fall into four categories:

Functional – at the base of the pyramid are requirements necessary for any positive experience. These are simple things such as quality, variety, sensory appeal and effort reduction.

Emotional – this level of the pyramid represents the standards most of us would use to determine if an experience is a positive one. These include measures like fun, anxiety reduction, the generation of nostalgia and therapeutic value.

Life changing – Is this too much to ask? If you look at the elements that form this level, the answer becomes an easy no:

Provides hope – When you’re filled with a sense of optimism.

Motivation – Spurring people to achieve their goals.

Affiliation and belonging – Being invited into a group or team.

Heirloom – An experience you feel inspired to pass down to the next generation.

Self Actualisation – Providing a sense of personal accomplishment.

Standing at the top of the pyramid is Social Impact. Simply, helping other people.

Some of these values, such as motivation, are more inwardly focussed, whereas others such as organizes are outwardly focussed. The tiers of the pyramid represent the increasing importance of these values to our lives. While this pyramid was created to apply to consumer-to-business and business-to-business relationships, it is easy to see its application in building a truly fulfilling personal experience.

Josh French summing up the courage to jump off a bridge.

Personal Experience

On my recent trip to Switzerland, I was faced with a couple of different activities that were out of my comfort zone, both involving water. I have always had a dislike for cold water and a lack of confidence swimming in oceans / rivers. I was faced with two occasions where I was going to be jumping into a river of cold water. No one was forcing this upon me, but I wanted to really push myself and try and overcome this barrier. The first photo is me psyching myself up for one of these occasions, and then you can see the result once I pushed myself. It may not seem like much, and it doesn’t have to, but to me this felt like a great moment and is something I can look back on in the future as a fond memory.

When it comes to our professional lives, it has been proven that giving is a greater predictor of success than taking, leading to more fulfilling work. If this is true for our work lives, why cant the same be true for our social lives? If you can go on holiday and return feeling fulfilled, motivated and appreciative for all you have, wouldn’t that enrich your life?

But Wait. How Can I Implement This?

So, how do you use this knowledge? How can you incorporate the elements of value into your life? You have two options:

1) Go all in

2) Take transitional steps

If you’re not ready for the all in proposition, consider taking simple steps by looking at the elements in the upper two tiers of the pyramid. Set yourself a goal (in work or for one of your hobbies) that is enough of a stretch that it feels like an accomplishment. Facilitate belonging by joining a book club or similar social group. Create a benchmark holiday that provides you with such a sense of fulfilment that it becomes a rite of passage for your children, friends, nieces and nephews.

Summary

So to some up, how can you live your best life? Life won’t hand you value and fulfilment on a silver platter – it is up to you to seek it out. Phrases like “go outside your comfort zone” have become very cliché, but there is a truth to them – by pushing your own boundaries, you can experience a greater sense of fulfilment and truly live a life full of meaning and happiness. 

As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact us here, or you can visit our Facebook page for more information and for more updates on what we’re up to.

Understanding Muscle Strains

Understanding Muscle Strains

Football injury to be treated by Pro Chiro, chiropractor in surrey

Many athletes, those with active lifestyles and sedentary individuals suffer from muscular strains. Often they are confused as to why it happened to them, the severity of it, and the timeline for recovery. During the World Sports Games I attended in Spain, I dealt with a lot of recent hamstring strains. My goal in this short article is to clear up the confusion and give you a clear understanding of muscular strains.

Muscular Strains

To start off, strains occur to muscles and sprains happen to ligaments. For the sake of this article, we will keep it simple and discuss muscular strains. Sometimes an injury is considered a sprain/strain because there may be a strain to the muscle alongside a sprain of ligaments at the joint.

We will also divide muscular strains into two categories, chronic (long term) over-use and acute (short term) traumatic strains. Often an over-use strain can be confusing for the patient as there is no “single” event that is the clear cause of the injury. Whereas in a traumatic strain injury it is obvious as to the cause of the strain. In these cases, patients often say “yeah, I picked up that TV and my back went into spasm”.

So, let’s first discuss the over-use strain that is all too common.

Long term Over Use Strain 

Often these muscular injuries are not caused by a single event. In many cases, these injuries are caused by cumulative micro-injuries. Over time, these micro-injuries reduce the capacity of our muscles and joints to resist injury. This process is not limited to any particular activity, but anything you do repetitively.

This chronic cycle begins with overwork, such as long duration of sitting or long distance running. This prolonged overwork may lead to muscular imbalances and weak/tense muscles/soft tissue. These weak and/or tight muscles lead to excessive friction, pressure and tension to the local muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia (connective tissue). In turn, this results in decreased circulation and swelling and a lack of oxygen to the area. Due to this hypoxic state (lack of oxygen to an area), the formation of adhesions and/or scar tissue occurs to the area, which decreases the function of the local structures. This becomes a vicious cycle that over time results in weaker and more tensed muscles and soft tissue. In this way the cycle keeps on churning until the body sends off the alarm system that something is wrong.

That alarm system comes in the form of a pain!

Now onto the dreaded acute/traumatic strain that occurs to people often, and can be extremely painful and life-altering for a stretch of time, depending on the “grade” of your strain. The below information is from the website Physiotherapy Notes and more information can be found on their website here.

Josh French, sports chiropractor, performing assessment of a muscular strain.

Grade I Muscle Strain

In grade I muscle strain, the muscle or tendon is overstretched. Small tears to muscle fibers may or may not occur. You may have mild pain with or without swelling. Grade I strain is also called mild muscle strain.

Grade II Muscle Strain

Also called moderate muscle strain, grade II strain occurs when the muscle or its tendon is overstretched with more of the fibers torn. The tear is not a complete tear. Symptoms may include moderate pain with swelling. The area of injury is tender. Bruising may occur if small blood vessels at the site of injury are damaged as well. Movement may be difficult because of pain.

Grade III Muscle Strain

Grade III strain, or severe muscle strain, is the most serious among the three grades of muscle strains. Most of the muscle fibers are torn. In some cases, the muscle is completely torn or ruptured. Pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising are usually present. Movement is usually difficult.

Moderate and severe muscle strains should be seen by a qualified health care provider. For grade I muscle strains, simple home remedies, such as applying Peace and Love methods (as detailed in this blog post) may be just enough to manage symptoms.

Preventative Measures

Here are some corrective strategies to decrease the chances of the over-use strain or acute traumatic strain injuries. Keep in mind, even if everything is “ideal” you still may end up with strains and sprains if your sport or activity is strenuous in nature.

  • Corrective exercises: This will help combat against muscular imbalances which can cause biomechanical issues and increased strain on the body.

  • Micro-breaks: Break up the repetitions of your activity or sport.

  • Proper Technique: Less strain on the body from optimal efficiency and performance.

  • Rest and Recovery: Helps get the body back to a steady state and prevents excessive fatigue.

  • Equipment: Key to performance, efficiency and reduction of strain on the body.

Treatment Options

If a strain injury does occur, there are many treatment options one can consider in addition to the PEACE and LOVE methods we discussed before in this blog post. In our office, we typically utilize 3 key treatment options that not all clinics do, and they are as follows:

    1. Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Release

    2. Spinal Adjustments

    3. Sports Taping

You can click here to learn more about our treatment approach. 

As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact us here, or you can visit our Facebook page for more information and for more updates on what we’re up to.

An International Sports Chiropractic Event

For the first week of July 2019, Josh French, sports chiropractor and clinical director of Pro Chiro, travelled to Tortosa in Spain to provide sports chiropractic treatment at the CSIT World Sports Games.

What is the CSIT World Sports Games (WSG) I hear you ask? Its a biannual international tournament organised by labour unions around the world to allow their workers the chance to compete in an amateur olympics. For the WSG in 2019 there were around 3500 athletes in attendance! Josh was part of a 24 person team representing FICS (International Federation of Sports Chiropractic). This team was spread out over multiple venues to provide expert sports chiropractic care to any athletes, volunteers, coaches or officials who injured themselves during the competition or had pre-existing injuries.

This is Josh’s sports chiropractic report from the week:

Josh French, sports chiropractor about to start treating athletes.

What. An. Experience.

My first international sports event working as a sports chiropractor. A very tough, out-of-my-comfort-zone and tiring experience, but incredibly rewarding and fun.

The picture above was taken after we had set up on day 1 at the football stadium. Here I was, working alongside sports chiropractors from around the world and to say I felt nervous would be an understatement. In fact, the whole of the first day I felt totally out of my comfort zone and that I didn’t belong amongst the team. However, after reflecting, I realised that all of the sports chiropractors in our team started from the same position as me. They all had their first event at some point. We all had the same Sports Chiropractic qualification and all shared a passion for helping athletes play at their best and for introducing chiropractic care to newcomers. Once I realised this I grew in confidence tenfold and I will really cherish this experience for years to come.

Coming Together.

One of the most empowering moments of the week was very early on, during the opening ceremony. Altogether there were around 3500 athletes from around the world competing. During the parade before the opening ceremony these athletes were taking photos with each other. People from around the globe with nothing in common, not even language. Nothing in common, apart from sport. Their shared passion for sport and for competing brought them together. It was as clear a sight as any as to the power of sport to bring people together. To bring people from different cultures and different backgrounds together in shared joy and passion for something. It was a really powerful moment watching this happen all around me and one I wont forget.

The amateur Portuguese football team with Josh French sports chiropractor

Global Event

During the course of the week, I had the pleasure and fortune to work with athletes from the following countries: Spain, Portugal, France, Mexico, Russia, Iran, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Korea and Latvia. I may have missed a couple, but you get the picture. It was a global event, and the participants reflected that!

For many of the athletes we helped, it was their first taste of chiropractic care. Watching their faces light up after their treatment was amazing, and seeing their happiness at being able to get back on the pitch and carry on playing with their compatriots was such a great thing to be a part of. This is the real reason we were there. We weren’t there for glory. We weren’t their for success or fame. We were there to introduce sports chiropractic care to people from around the globe to enrich their lives and further our profession. Only through getting out there and sharing what we do with people from all backgrounds can we broaden the horizons of the Sports Chiropractic world.

Josh French with Rene Fejer, both sports chiropractors.

Personal Growth

And finally a little story about my own personal development. During the final part of my FICS Sport Chiropractic qualification, I was lucky enough to have a sports chiropractor from Denmark (Rene Fejer for those in the know..) as one of my instructors. I learnt so much from him during the training and felt inspired by his stories of working at previous elite sports events.

To my delight, Rene also attended the CSIT WSG with us and what’s more, I was partnered with him for three days covering the football competition. So for me this really came around full circle – I went from learning from him as a student to working alongside him (and still learning from him!) as a colleague. This was incredibly rewarding and really affirmed to me that I am on the right path. He even trusted me enough to ask me to treat him while we were there, and this was just such a special moment for me.

Conclusion

This week was so memorable for me in many ways. The opportunity to work with elite sports chiropractors from around the world is a truly priceless thing. As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact us here, or you can visit our Facebook page for more information and for more updates on what we’re up to.