Running Injuries – A Comprehensive Approach

 Running plays a large role in many people’s lives, especially in San Francisco. With many races that take place in the Bay area, I feel it is important to give advice about running injuries. Whether you plan to compete in a 5k, 10 K, half or full marathon, you can benefit from knowing when to recognize soreness from injury.
As the number of participants in competitive and recreational running increases, so does the number of running-associated injuries. A majority of novice runners are, in general, ill-prepared to begin a sound training program and often overestimate their capabilities. Consequently, up to 60 percent of runners will experience an injury that will ultimately limit their activity. While some of these injuries are due to actual trauma, a vast majority fall into the category of “overuse syndromes.” These injuries are recurrent and can be frustrating for the athlete, which can overwhelming and cause the individual to abandon running or exercise altogether.
Overuse or misuse injuries tend to be gradual in onset, developing over a period of weeks or months. These injuries are the result of excessive and/or repetitive motion. Ultimately, the athlete suffers a microtrauma injury, where the body is unable to keep up with the repair and re-strengthening demands. As a result, the tissue begins to fail and becomes symptomatic. If the injury is not particularly painful, or if the symptoms are reduced by taking medication, the athlete usually continues to run. Eventually, this cycle ends with injuries, such as a stress fractures or ligament tears. The causes of these types of injuries can be categorized into “extrinsic” and “intrinsic” factors.
Injuries that are external to the runner are often the easiest to modify, and should be treated immediately.
Extrinsic sources include:

  • The training program (mileage per week)
  • Number of speed or hill workouts
  • Recent increase in mileage, and amount of rest time
  • Equipment (design and running shoe materials)
  • Running surfaces (asphalt, artificial track, or trails).
  • It is important to note that exposure to a high training load (duration, frequency, or distance) increases the risk of injury. Therefore, modification of the athletes’ training schedule (less mileage on more forgiving surfaces) can significantly reduce this risk.

For San Franciscans, hills tend to be the biggest issue.  Running up and down hills can put extra stress into the knees or athletes, which can lead to biomechanical stress and ultimately, injury.
Intrinsic factors associated with overuse injuries relate primarily to muscle imbalances or structural problems. Therefore, a well executed examination is necessary to investigate underlying biomechanical, misalignments and dysfunction in the body. Once these factors have been identified, a proper treatment program should sufficiently address these issues. Often times, a patient will have a condition that is easy to diagnose, however, re-injury or delayed recovery can occur due to these factors.
Overuse injuries in runners are a good example of problems may arise from the environment (extrinsic factors) or the individual’s biomechanics (intrinsic factors). Proper treatment and rehabilitation can help address structural stress and strain. For long term improvement, it is important for the athlete to incorporate a training program that is tailored to their individual strengths and weaknesses. A comprehensive multi-model approach to the treatment of running injuries is the best hope for many years of recreational or competitive enjoyment. As a general rule, if you experience any form of pain in the body, you should go seek a sports health care professional for proper evaluation and treatment.
Here is a list of upcoming races in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area:
July 14: The Color Run (5k)
July 15: Miles for Migraine (5k,10k)- In Mountain View
July 15: Crissy Field (5k)
July 21: Urban Dare -(10k, 5 miles)- San Jose
July 28: Bad Bass Half Marathon (5k, 10k included)-Castro Valley
July 29: The San Francisco Marathon (5k, 10k, half and full)
July 29: Munchkin Kids Run (Kids race)
August 8: Survival Dash (5k)
September 16: The Lake Merced Half Marathon
September 16: The San Francisco Giant Race (5k)
October 14: Nike Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon

If you are training for one of these races and are experiencing pain, SF Custom Chiropractic would be happy to evaluate your condition and help you reach the finish line. Call 415 788-8700 for an appointment.

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