5 Common Reasons for Pain During Running, and the Real Why/How to Fix It

So I was perusing through Facebook trying to find inspiration for a blog post when *cough* Runner’s World *cough* provided me with some excellent material.

Something like 5 Reasons you get pain while running, and here’s what to do about them.  I’ll sum it up for you: muscle tightness, patellofemoral pain (knee pain), plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and IT Band syndrome, and the resounding fix to all of these was “STRETCH!”

Stretching has its place, but its place should be at the bottom of a therapy totem pole. The reason those 5 things happen is due to your running mechanics and static posture. Stretching is not likely to magically fix that.  Let’s break each one of these down.

 

MUSCLE TIGHTNESS
How It Occurs:
Muscle tightness occurs from overusing a certain muscle or group of muscles, and not providing a break for those muscles.

How to Fix It: 
We need to look at why it’s happening.  For instance, are your back muscles tight because you stand with a tilted pelvis?  Are your hips tight because you sit at a desk most of the day with a wallet in your back pocket that creates an uneven foundation for your butt when you’re sitting?  Do you drive with one hand on the steering wheel and your shoulder arched up with the other hand on your phone, on the other seat etc.  Is your pillow too wide for your neck, so your neck muscles are tight when you wake up? 

In sports, do you have a predominant planting, kicking, throwing, catching, hitting, etc. side? That creates asymmetries! Only looking at movement patterns and correcting the movement patterns will fix things permanently.

 

PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN

How It Occurs:
Patellofemoral (or runner’s knee) pain occurs when the quadriceps muscle which inserts in to the knee cap (patella).  Something is amiss and off balance in the leg, be it the quads, the glutes, the hips, the ankles, or the foot.  Even though you may have these big, gorgeous muscles, the nerves that make them work can become “blurried,” if you will, by blocked joints somewhere in the body.

How to Fix It:
If there’s pain, it’s a sign that something, somewhere is off, and this is your body’s way of telling you.  But what your body doesn’t always tell your properly is where this pain is actually originating, or why.  Knee pain can occur because maybe your ankle is actually instable, caves in, blocks a nerve receptor, this nerve receptor then blurries and “turns off” your glutes, which destabilize your hips, which then creates pull on muscles around the knee to keep you stable, and boom, knee pain.   That’s just one scenario, but a very common one we see at Golgi Performance.

 

PLANTAR FASCIITIS

How it Occurs:
You aggravate your feet, the fascia is overworked and becomes irritated.  If you have TRUE plantar fasciitis, run a deep knuckle through your foot.  If you feel, or hear, something like crinkled paper, sorry.  If not, then you don’t have plantar fasciitis.

How to Fix It:
Get a running mechanics workup. Seriously, you’re probably landing incorrectly, either too much pronation, or have a serious case of posterior chain issues, so your entire body leans forward and your poor calves and feet are left trying to stabilize all of you. Let’s take a look at your vision, too! Not “do I see 20/20” vision, but is my line of sight pointed down (which drives the head down, which brings the back with it, which then means your lower body is doing all of the work keeping you upright!). Or, does one of your eyes “shut off,” which means you tend to strike harder with your right foot, which creates an imbalance, and then your right foot becomes unhappy. Also, you probably need to ditch your big, pillowy shoes, and strengthen your feet.

 

SHIN SPLINTS

How it Occurs:
If you like to pronate, trying out a new running stride, walk on your toes, have weak hips, have weak core, you’re likely to get shin splints.

How to Fix It:
Posture! Find a practitioner who can perform muscle tests so that you can find exactly which muscles are “turned off” for whatever reason, which are activated correctly, but are now overworked, and visit a running shoe store which will take video of your stride and provide shoes which give support without changing gait and that allow for your feet and ankles to actually do some stabilization work.

 

IT BAND SYNDROME

How it Occurs:
You can very easily anger your IT Band by crossing your midline when you run, this overstretches the ITB, and generally puts a lot of pressure on the knee, especially if your ankles and knee are already compromised.

How to Fix It:
Oh man, sounding like a broken record here. Your mechanics are off!  In the case of ITB, we would definitely want to look at vision, to see if you’re more likely to one eye over the, which would drive one leg to cross over the midline, since your body doesn’t have a good sense of balance without both eyes doing equal work.  We’d also want to check your vestibular, or balance system, to examine if that is implicated as well. IF your body doesn’t have a solid vestibular system, it doesn’t know it’s planting its feet!  We also need to check your feet and ankles or weakness or jamming, then go right up the chain!

 

So, less stretching, more posture, mechanics, balance and vision work will help fix your 5 common running problems.  Lucky for you, that’s what we do here at Golgi Performance!