You can’t stretch, strengthen, tape, scrap, roll, or massage your way out of a running problem!
You're midway through your marathon training plan. You dedicated both time (those race registrations aren’t cheap) and money to improving your health and setting a goal time. However, that right, lateral knee has become a problem (or maybe an Achilles pain, or hip pain, or back pain, etc.); you are limping, frustrated, and looking for answers.
Consulting Dr. Google gives you a WIDE array of options (orthotics, taping, bracing, massage guns, compression socks, maximalist shoes, minimalist shoes, and probably hundreds of other options) . Fellow runners may offer some advice…”you need to strengthen your ‘core’”...”you need to strengthen your hips”...”you need to engage your glutes”. The clock continues to tick toward race day and that pain is still a problem.
Most runners that I have interacted with don’t have a good idea of how they actually run. When I ask them about their running technique most of them never cite a coach that actually worked on their running technique. Think about it for a second, when you start a new sport a coach will usually take a novice through the basic techniques for optimal performance (e.g. a coach teaches you to hold a golf club, how to hold/throw the discus, how to shoot a basketball, etc.), but do we do this for running sports? This is where gait analysis can help the injured runner.
If you are currently dealing with a running-related injury do you know if you land on your heel or fore-foot? Do you overstride? Do you collapse at your hip? Do you lack a falling angle? Do you know your average cadence? Which of these issues might be the biggest factor in your particular running issue? The key to finding out is having someone actually watching you run (in slow motion preferably) and monitoring your specific technique. Changing the running technique is key to addressing the injury. Research shows us that strengthening ALONE will not address the issue. Stretching ALONE will not fix how you land on the foot while running. None of our adjuncts (orthotics, braces, etc.) will make the necessary neurological changes to alter your technique for optimal performance. A gait analysis session can then collect your specific movement patterns and develop a plan to run better and instruct the runner how to fix their problem.
If you are curious how you run and how your technique might be improved please give us a call. At Valley Rehabilitation & Performance we specialize in runner’s issues.
Willy, Richard W., and Irene S. Davis. "The effect of a hip-strengthening program on mechanics during running and during a single-leg squat." Journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy 41.9 (2011): 625-632.
Noehren, B., J. Scholz, and I. Davis. "The effect of real-time gait retraining on hip kinematics, pain and function in subjects with patellofemoral pain syndrome." British journal of sports medicine 45.9 (2011): 691-696.