Distance running is one of the easiest ways to stay in shape-all you have to do is get up and go! Additionally, with the increased social component of competing in marathons, 5Ks, and obstacle races, more and more Americans are getting in on the action. And, usually by this point in the summer, people have done a lot of running! Between jogs with friends outside, or running around in the back yard with the kids or playing in summer softball leagues, the potential for overuse injuries due to running become prevalent; most common of these are knee pain, pack pain, and shin splints.
Knee pain will usually manifest itself as patellar tendonitis, which appears because the repetitive running motion is largely controlled by the quadriceps group.
Low back pain will develop in runners because each time that your legs stride forward during your run requires you to bring your leg from behind your hip to in front of your hip, your hip flexors are firing constantly to allow this to happen. As a result, these muscles are constantly pulling your pelvis forward, which causes your spinal erector muscles to have to work in order to keep your pelvis in line.
Shin splints are caused by tiny little micro tears in the anterior tibialis muscle, which is the small skinny muscle that runs vertically over the front of your shin bone, and is responsible for actively lifting your toes off the ground every time your heel strikes the ground.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there are a few exercise and stretches that can be done to alleviate your pain. To rid yourself of knee pain, trying strengthening your hamstrings by doing deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and hip brides. To stop low back pain, make sure you are stretching and foam-rolling your hip flexor muscles and also doing back strengthening exercises like the deadlift (again!) and Supermans. Lastly, shin splints can be taken care of through stretching your Achille’s tendon, and strengthening your lower legs with lateral step ups.
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Joe Gernetzke CSCS