Monday, May 18, 2009

Everybody Hurts, Part Deux..

Last week I talked about a few ways to assess whether or not some discomfort/pain you're feeling is truly an injury/aggravation and introduced a couple common running related injuries/aggravations.

Not to dwell on the negative, but injuries/aggravations do come up sometimes (and we're at a point in the season where they have a tendency to rear their ugly heads) and at the very least I'd like to empower you guys with the ability to identify some of the more common things that can come up.

Below is 'part deux' of my injury/aggravation summary:

Shin Splints- I've had a few of you complain of shin pain and more often than not what you're suffering from is shin splints. Shin splints is often characterized by tenderness over the inside of the shin, lower leg pain, some swelling, lumps/bumps over the bone, pain when the toes or feet are bent downwards, and/or redness over the inside of the shin. It's caused by an overload on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. Definitely not fun, but it can be treated!

A few ways to address/treat:

1)ICE- The virtual panacea for just about all soft tissue running aggravations is also effective for shin splints as well...particularly in the early stages.

2)REST- Again, no big surprise here. Substituting some running for crosstraining and/or resting entirely will give your body some time to heal.

3)DO A SHOE CHECK- If you've been running in your shoes for a long time, it may be the case that they're not doing the best job absorbing the jarring/impact associated with running. It's possible a new pair of shoes will help your cause.

4)HEEL RAISES- Doing some simple heel raises periodically throughout the week will help strengthen your calves and help stave off/address shin splints.

Plantar Fasciitis- This one was the bane of my existence in 2006! Truly, plantar fasciitis can become a REAL hassle. In short, you've got this soft tissue on the bottom of your foot(fascia) that connects your heel bone to the base of your toes and when it becomes inflamed, you can get plantar fasciitis. This happens because of overtraining and/or poor biomechanics primarily. If your first steps out of bed in the morning are characterized by severe pain in the heel of your foot, you may be developing plantar fasciitis. This one can become CHRONIC, so being aggressive and proactive in treating it is KEY!

A few ways to address/treat:

1)REST- Try to keep weight off your foot. Granted, this is easier said than done for most of us. In lieu of staying off your feet entirely, put some sorbothane heel cushions in your shoes to reduce impact/jarring to the fascia.

2)ICE- does work for just about everything! Applying some ice for 20 min. 3-4 times/day will help relieve pain and inflammation. A little ibuprofen can help here too.

3)STRETCHING- Stretching the achilles tendon and the fascia is also important. One such stretch involves leaning forward against a wall with one knee straight and the heel on the ground. Your other knee is bent. Your heel cord and foot arch stretch as you lean. Hold this for 10 seconds, relax, and straighten up. Repeat 20 times for each sore heel.

4)MASSAGE- You can seek out a sports massage therapist or simply do a bit of self massage. You can do the latter with a tennis ball, golf ball, or a foot roller (which can be found at Fleet Feet). Use any of the aforementioned to roll underneath your foot and loosen/relax the fascia and surrounding muscles/tissues.

The underlying message here regardless of what may (or hopefully not!) be ailing you is to act AGGRESSIVELY and PROACTIVELY in addressing it! Most of the garden variety running related aggravations can be addressed in a relatively short period of time if you follow the direction I've provided.

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