Running has become an increasingly popular activity for exercise among people of all ages. In fact, 60 million people within the United States participate in some form of running activity each year. People participate in running activities for numerous reasons including: improving fitness, weight concerns, running a race/competition, staying healthy, and having fun. Running for 5 – 10 minutes per day has shown to decrease the risk of death and cardiovascular disease. Running less than 50 minutes per week has also shown to reduce the risk of death from heart disease when compared to individuals who don’t participate in running at all. While running has many benefits, about 50% of people get injured each year from running. Running injuries can be caused by poor running technique, reduced strength and flexibility, improper footwear, as well as overuse.
Walking, running, jogging, dancing, are all functional activities we do daily without thinking about it. They simply come second nature to us and are essential to a healthy life. What if your big toe, also known as the hallux, was amputated? Would you still be able to do what you love at all or even with ease?
Achilles pain or injury can prevent itself in the form of tendinopathy (i.e. tendinitis or tendinosis), or the more critical Achilles tendon tear or rupture. The Achilles tendon is the tendon to the gastroc and soleus, which together are known as the calf muscles. The role of a tendon is to transfer the force from the contracting muscle to the intended joint of movement. Together these muscles plantarflex the ankle joint, or point the foot downwards. This action creates the force needed to push the ground away and help propel the body forwards (or upwards) when we are walking, running, or jumping. The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the body, and the gastroc and soleus are the primary ankle plantar flexor muscles.
I don’t have to be the first to tell you that this has been a tough year for everyone emotionally, mentally and physically. Sticking to a healthy routine has never been more important. Throughout the last year, running has always been an outlet for me. Through tough, lonely, and cold days where it was an effort to even get out of the house, running has always put my mind and body at ease, providing stress relief and happiness, even if for a short period of time.
The IT band, or Illiotibial band, is connective tissue that runs along the lateral thigh from the hip to the outside of the tibia (shinbone), just below your knee. IT band pain occurs due to inflammation caused by friction between the IT band and thigh bone, often with repeated knee flexion and extension. This inflammation leads to pain on the outside of the knee, especially with repetitive use in running, walking, hiking and cycling.
Congratulations! You graduated from physical therapy! Although you may have gone there feeling injured, you are now slowly returning to your normal, active self. As you finish your sessions, it is important to get clearance on returning to running. Your physical therapist can help you determine a realistic running goal to make sure the two of you are on the same page.
With winter kicking into high gear and limited indoor options for workouts, people are increasing their walking and running outside as forms of new exercise. As you prepare to bundle up and either ramp up your running or start a new hobby, planning the appropriate training plan is key! As a Physical Therapist, this is the time of the year where I often see people get injured from improper running training. Here are just a few tips to keep you running strong all winter long!
Perhaps running is one of your fitness goals for the New Year and why not – it’s a great way to maintain your fitness, relatively inexpensive and something you can easily do as we remain socially distant in the current pandemic. Whether you are completely new to running or just picking it up after a couple year hiatus, we’ve got some tips to help you get started!