Select Physical Therapy is once again joining the Austin Runners Club as our Presenting Sponsor for the 2017-18 Austin Distance Challenge. For us, they are more than just a sponsor; they are a trusted and valued resource providing invaluable knowledge and support to our runners. We want to thank them and highlight their great work, while sharing some great information with you about common injuries that runners may face during training.
When is it okay to push through pain?
Most athletes accept a certain level of pain and muscle soreness as part of training for particular events. Often times many people will push through a certain pain in hopes it will resolve itself. Some pains are worth being concerned about and should be addressed before it advances to a more serious injury. Signs to look for include:
- Pain that continues to persist hours after running
- Pain greater than a 3/10 while running
- Pain that gets worse the longer you run
- Pain that wakes you at night
If experiencing these symptoms it is good to reassess your training regimen. Are you running too long or too frequently? Are your running shoes too old? Has your running form changed recently? If you are still unable to resolve these “bad” pains, it is a good idea to consult a physical therapist or running specialist for treatment. The sooner you get treated the faster the recovery process!
Identifying stress fracture versus shin splints
Lower leg stress fractures are a common injury in runners that form after repetitive stress to the bone. When there is not enough rest time for bone remodeling to occur, it causes a stress reaction to the area of the bone taking the most stress. This stress reaction eventually turns into a stress fracture. Drastic increase in amount of activity is the greatest risk factor to developing stress fractures.
Signs to watch for include:
- Tenderness to palpation at the site of pain
- Pain will be local to site of pain, and will not be tender above or below fracture site
- Swelling is associated with this change
- Symptoms will subside with rest
The greatest difference between stress fracture and shin splints is that shin splints will be tender to the touch above and below the tender point. Swelling is usually not associated with shin splints. If a stress fracture is suspected, it’s important to stop training and see a medical professional. X-ray or bone scan can determine if there is a stress reaction or fracture. Treatment usually includes temporary non-weight bearing with crutches and waiting for fracture to heal which can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks.
Hip Flexor Tightness
For many distance runners, hip flexor tightness and pain can be a problem when building mileage. Hip flexors get tight when sitting for too long. When the hip flexors get tight it will lengthen and weaken the glutes, making them less engaged during the gait cycle. The glutes are powerful muscles that are important for propulsion and shock absorption. If they do not engage as they should, other muscles throughout the lower body take on more force, leading to potential injury. Hip flexor static stretching throughout the day is a good way to maintain mobility. Dynamic warm up of the hip flexors prior to a run will ensure the hip flexor is open in order to allow for more glute activity. The following stretches are great to add to a training regimen.
About the Author: Lauren Queenan, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Lauren is a physical therapist currently working out of Select Physical Therapy’s Cedar Park clinic. Prior to moving to the Austin area, Lauren received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. While living and working in Boston, Lauren was very involved with local run clubs and running events, particularly the Boston Marathon. She treated many runners who were training for the marathon and volunteered as a therapist every year in the medical tent at the marathon’s finish line. Administering comprehensive therapy and exercise plans that enable her patients to recover from their injuries to reach their goals, whether the goal is to finish a marathon or simply get back to running is what has always fueled Lauren’s passion for running rehabilitation.
Outside of work, Lauren enjoys staying active through outdoor activities such as running, swimming, and hiking. Lauren has trained and participated in countless road races and track events throughout her lifetime. Through her own training errors and injuries, she has gained a stronger appreciation for how the body works as a whole. The human body is an amazing machine, but the smallest error in mechanics can start to affect other areas of the body in an instant. Over time, the growing number of symptoms from poor mechanics can make it difficult to diagnose the root cause of the problem. To find this root cause, Lauren relies heavily on functional movement screens and gait analysis. This helps Lauren pinpoint the source of a problem to not only reduce current symptoms and get her patients back on track, but to ensure that they have the knowledge and mechanics to stay injury free in the future.
Select Physical Therapy is a leading provider of physical therapy, hand/occupational therapy, sports medicine and work health services. Our highly trained team of physical therapists and athletic trainers is available to serve all of your sports injury prevention, recovery and performance needs.
Whether you are a weekend warrior or dedicated athlete, Select Physical Therapy is committed to working collaboratively with each patient to develop an evidence-based plan of care that achieves individual goals in a safe, compassionate and efficient manner. We offer running assessments, functional movement screens, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, care for orthopaedic injuries (including sprains and strains!) and so much more.
Select Physical Therapy has 20 convenient locations throughout Central Texas, 10 of which have provided specialty running programs in partnership with the Austin Runners Club since 2014. For more information or to request an appointment, please visit selectphysicaltherapy.com.