All These Areas Are Within Easy Reach of The Haven Healing Centre, Blagdon, Bristol
To book your Running Pain or Running Injury Treatment at a convenient time, call: 01761 462722
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Sports Improvement Training for Peak Performance - CD
Marathon Runners - Treatment for Running Injuries of ALL Types
Treatments, rehabilitation and pain relief for marathon runners, track and field athletes, road runners, cross country, joggers, and anyone planning on attending the London Olympics in 2012.
Manual Treatment Protocols for Acute & Chronic Running Injuries
Running mechanics - Running is a complex and coordinated process that involves the whole body. Such as the rolling of the foot from heel to ankle, part of the lower body motion, or the upper body's motion to keep a controlled form.
Lower body motion
Running occurs as a sequence of alternating strides between the two legs. Each leg's stride can be roughly divided into three phases: support, drive, and recovery. Support and drive occur when the foot is in contact with the ground. Recovery occurs when the foot is off the ground. Since only one foot is on the ground at a time in running, one leg is always in recovery, while the other goes through support and drive. Then, briefly, as the runner leaps through the air, both legs are in recovery. These phases are described in detail below.
Upper body motion
- Support - During the support phase, the foot is in contact with the ground and supports the body against gravity. The body's centre of mass is typically somewhere in the lower abdominal area between the hips (approx. level and anterior to the lumbo-sacral articulation).
The supporting foot touches ground slightly ahead of the point that lies directly below the body's centre of mass. The knee joint is at its greatest extension just prior to the support phase; when contact is made with the ground, the knee joint begins to flex. To what extent it flexes varies with the running style. There exist stiff-legged running styles which reduce knee flexion, and looser, or more dynamic running styles which increase it. As the supporting leg bends at the knee, the pelvis dips down on the opposite side. These motions absorb shock and are opposed by the coordinated action of several muscles. The pelvic dip is opposed by the Tensor fasciae lataeilio-tibial band of the supporting leg, the hip abductor, and the abdominals and lower back muscles. The knee flexion is opposed by the muscle contraction of the quadriceps muscle. The supporting hip continues to extend and the body's centre of mass passes over the supporting leg. The knee then begins to extend, and the opposite hip rises from its brief dip. The support phase begins to transition into drive.
- Drive - The support phase quickly transitions into the drive phase. The drive leg extends at the knee joint, and at the hips, such that the toe maintains contact with the ground as that leg trails behind the body. The foot pushes backward and also down, creating a diagonal force vector, which, in an efficient running style, is aimed squarely at the runner's centre of mass. Since the diagonal vector has a vertical component, the drive phase continues to provide some support against gravity and can be regarded as an extension of the support phase. During the drive, the foot may extend also, by a flexing of the soleus and gastrocnemius muscle in the calf. In some running styles, notably long-distance "shuffles" which keep the feet close to the ground, the ankle remains more or less rigid during drive. Because the knee joint straightens, though not completely, much of the power of the drive comes from the quadriceps muscle group, and in some running styles, additional power comes from the calves as they extend the foot for a longer drive. This motion is most exhibited in sprinting.
- Recovery - When the driving toe loses contact with the ground, the recovery phase begins. During recovery, the hip flexes, which rapidly drives the knee forward. Much of the motion of the lower leg is driven by the forces transferred from the upper leg rather than by the action of the muscles. As the knee kicks forward, it exerts torque against the lower leg through the knee joint, causing the leg to snap upward. The degree of leg lift can be consciously adjusted by the runner, with additional muscle power. During the last stage of recovery, the hip achieves maximal flexion, and, as the lower leg rapidly unfolds, which it does in a passive way, the knee joint also reaches its greatest, though not full, extension. During this extension of the leg and flexion of the hip, the hamstring and gluteal muscles are required to stretch rapidly. Muscles which are stretched respond by contracting by a reflex action. Recovery ends when the foot comes into contact with the ground, transitioning again into the support phase.
The motions of the upper body are essential to maintaining balance, and a forward motion for optimal running. They compensate for the motions of the lower body, keeping the body in rotational balance. A leg's recovery is matched by a forward drive of the opposite arm, and a leg's support and drive motions are balanced by backward movement of the opposite arm. The shoulders and torso are also involved. Because the leg drive is slower than the kick of recovery, the arm thrusting backward is slower also. The forward arm drive is more forceful and rapid.
The more force exerted by the lower body, the more exaggerated do the upper body motions have to be to absorb the momentum. While it is possible to run without movements of the arms, the spine and shoulders will generally still be recruited. Using the arms to absorb the forces aids in maintaining balance at higher speed. Otherwise, optimal force would be hard to attain for fear of falling over.
Most of the energy expended in running goes to the compensating motions, and so considerable gains in running speed as well as economy can be made by eliminating wasteful or incorrect motions. For instance, if the force vector in the drive phase is aimed too far away from the centre of mass of the body, it will transfer an angular momentum to the body which has to be absorbed.
The faster the running, the more energy has to be dissipated through compensating motions throughout the entire body. This is why elite sprinters have powerful upper body physiques. As the competitive distance increases, there is a rapid drop in the upper body and overall muscle mass typically exhibited by the people who compete at a high level in each respective event.
Elements of good running technique
- Upright posture and a slight forward lean - Leaning forward places a runner's center of mass on the front part of the foot, which avoids landing on the heel and facilitates the use of the spring mechanism of the foot. It also makes it easier for the runner to avoid landing the foot in front of the center of mass and the resultant braking effect. While upright posture is essential, a runner should maintain a relaxed frame and use his/her core to keep posture upright and stable. This helps prevent injury as long as the body is neither rigid, nor tense. When leaning forward, focus on leaning only slightly from the waist and the rest of the body will naturally follow. The most common running mistakes are tilting the chin up and scrunching shoulders.
- Stride rate and Types - Exercise physiologists have found that the stride rates are extremely consistent across professional runners, between 185 and 200 steps per minute. The main difference between long- and short-distance runners is the length of stride rather than the rate of stride.
During running, the speed at which the runner moves may be calculated by multiplying the cadence (steps per second) by the stride length. Running is often measured in terms of pace in minutes per mile or kilometer. Fast stride rates coincide with the rate one pumps their arms. The faster your arms move up and down, parallel with your body, the faster your rate of stride. Different types of stride are necessary for different types of running. When sprinting, runners stay on their toes bringing their legs up, using shorter and faster strides. Long distance runners tend to have more relaxed strides that vary.
- Running versus walking - In walking, one foot is always in contact with the ground, the legs are kept mostly straight and the center of gravity rides along fairly smoothly on top of the legs; in comparison, humans actually leap from one leg to the other while running. Each leap raises the center of gravity during take-off, and lowers it on landing as the knee bends to absorb the shock. At mid arc, both feet are momentarily off of the ground. This continual rise and fall of bodyweight expends a tremendous amount of energy opposing gravity and absorbing shock during take-off and landing. The act of running involves using more energy to accomplish travel over the same distance and running is a less efficient means of locomotion in terms of calories expended, though it is faster.
Due to its high-impact nature, there are many injuries associated with running. Common injuries include
"runner's knee" (pain in the knee), shin splints, pulled muscles (especially the hamstring), "jogger's nipple" (irritation of the nipple due to friction), twisted ankles, iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, runners bladder, and Achilles tendinitis. Stress fractures are also fairly common in runners training at a high volume or intensity. The most common running-related injuries are due to over-exertion or bad running form. Repetitive stress on the same tissues without enough time for recovery or running with improper form can lead to many of the above. Generally these injuries can be minimized by warming up beforehand, wearing proper running shoes, improving running form, performing strength training exercises, eating a well balanced diet, getting enough rest, and "icing" (applying ice to sore muscles, or taking an ice bath) and warming down (this allows muscles to shed metabolic waste prior to returning to their neutral state, thus reducing toxicity and painful muscles).
Cold bath is a popular treatment of subacute injuries or inflammation, muscular strains, and overall muscular soreness, but which efficacy is controversial. Some claim that for runners in particular, ice baths offer two distinct improvements over traditional techniques. First, immersion allows controlled, even constriction around all muscles, effectively closing microscopic damage that cannot be felt and numbing the pain that can. One may step into the tub to relieve sore calves, but quads, hams, and connective tissues from hips to toes will gain the same benefits, making hydrotherapy an attractive preventive regimen.
One major problem of many runners is that they run on concrete. The problem with running on concrete is that the body adjusts to this flat surface running and some of the muscles will become weaker. Concrete is also a hard surface and the stress it produces on the knee is problematic. You should change the terrain of your running such as trail, beach, or grass running. This is more unstable ground and allows your legs to strengthen different muscles. Runners should be wary of twisting their ankles on such terrain. Running downhill also increases knee stress and should therefore be avoided. Reducing the frequency and duration can also prevent injury, three 20-30 minute sessions a week should suffice.
If you are ever injured you should not continue to run, continuing to run could further damage the injury and prolong the recovery. A common acronym that is used to help the recovery process is RICE Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Then call me for an appointment to treat the problem: 01761 462722.
Another injury prevention method common in the running community is stretching. Stretching is often recommended as a requirement to avoid running injuries, and it is almost uniformly performed by competitive runners of any level.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that all stretching be done after exercise, as this is when the muscles are most warmed up and capable of increasing flexibility. Recent studies have also shown that stretching will reduce the amount of strength the muscle can produce during that training session.
In recent years, further studies and evidence has shown that Barefoot running reduces running related injuries. Some experts now believe that most athletic shoes, with their inflexible soles, structured sides and super-cushioned inserts keep feet so restricted that they may actually be making your feet lazy, weak and more prone to injury. As a result, barefoot training is gaining more attention among coaches, personal trainers and runners.
Research has shown that wearing shoes to exercise takes more energy, and that barefoot runners use about 4 percent less oxygen than shoe runners. Other studies suggest barefoot athletes naturally compensate for the lack of cushioning and land more softly than runners in shoes, putting less shock and strain on the rest of the body. Barefoot runners also tend to land in the middle of their foot, which can improve running form and reduce injury. Barefoot running is becoming a larger and more vocal community, as the benefits of unshod running become more visible and measurable.
While there is the potential for injury in running (just as there is in any sport), there are many benefits. Some of these benefits include potential weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle mass, increased bone density, and an improved emotional state. A consistent routine of running can increase HDL levels, reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease.
Running can assist people in losing weight and staying in shape. Different speeds and distances are appropriate for different individuals and so, obviously, it is important to stay within your body tolerances.
Running can also have psychological benefits, as many participants in the sport report feeling an elated, euphoric state, often referred to as a “runner’s high”. It has been suggested that hormones known as endorphins are the modulators of this so-called high, as the body is known to produce and release the hormone in response to prolonged participation in the sport. In fact, running is sometimes recommended to treat people with clinical depression and others coping with addiction.
My final message to you is this: Even runners with the most professional approach, and the best facilities, get injured sometimes. It matters not whether they are sprinters, middle distance, long distance or marathon runners. If you have a running injury, stop running, don't wait for it to get worse. Get treatment NOW!. If you live in any of the towns and villages on the left of this article, you are well within a 2-40 minute drive of The Haven Healing Centre, and I'd be delighted to see you.
Please call Phil Chave on 01761 462722 to make your appointment or to talk about a treatment plan structured around your needs.
Don't wait. Make your appointment today. You'll be glad you did!
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Philip Chave © 2007-
DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a
substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions
you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.
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