For the past 16 years, I have worked with many runners and have been fortunate enough to be able to run for the past 8 years… BUT It hasn’t been all medals and flowers. In this blog post, I am going to answer some of the common questions I get from runners on how to prevent and treat common muscle strains, muscle tightness, and overuse injuries such as tendonitis. These are the strategies that I have trialed over the years both personally and with my clients to hit their running goals. I really wished I had someone to guide me early on to answer some serious questions like:
What should I be doing to take care of my soft tissue (muscles)?
Should I foam roll my muscles?
When is the best time to stretch?
Click the YouTube video below for a live stream I did on this topic if you are more of an auditory and visual learner like myself 🙂
The most common running related injuries are overuse injuries to the soft tissue. Whether it is hamstring strains, plantar fascitis, or iliotibial band syndrome. All of these involve some involvement to the soft tissue. Soft tissue refers to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue such as fascia. Treatment can be directed to the soft tissue as part of prehab to prevent injuries or may be provided during rehab following an injury. These can be broken up into 2 distinct groups. Therapist generated techniques and self management techniques.
Therapist Generated Techniques:
Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.
To hear if dry needling is the same as accupuncture click this link here and watch this video. If you are wondering what dry needling looks like and how it is performed for lower back pain click this link here or watch the video below for relief of hip pain.
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)
The use of instruments to achieve effects and benefits of soft tissue mobilization. Various tools designed for different body regions can feel more comfortable for a patient due to the uniform pressure applied with each of the strokes.
Soft Tissue Massage
A technique in which a therapist uses their hands to directly impact a muscle or other soft tissues of your body.
Self Management Techniques:
A technique you can do in the comfort of your home or gym to help prime your body for your workouts or run. This can also be used after your runs to aide in recovery. Often times, foam rolling will “hurt so good” and most athletes I work with will feel looser after performing. I am acknowledging the research on why it feels good and the actual benefits are scarce in the research. Click here to read a nice article summing up the research and benefits of foam rolling.
Stretching your muscles and soft tissue are important to do both before your workouts or runs to prime your body as well as after to restore your muscles back to their resting length. Remember to perform active or dynamic stretching as part of a warm up before you run. Save the holding for prolonged positions or static stretching for after your runs.
Whenever we exercise a muscle with strength training we are causing physiological changes to the soft tissue aiding in the remolding process. This helps tissues become more resilient to the stresses that occur with running. This is using the power of exercise to not only get stronger to to aide in the healing process of certain soft tissues. An example of this would be using slow lowering calf raises to help chronic achilles pain. The lowering phase of the exercise is stimulating load to the tendon and aides in the remolding of that tendon so it can withstand force and not be painful during a run.
In this article I provided you with a brief overview of common running related questions I get regarding proper soft tissue care. One of the components to preventing and treating running related injuries is taking care of your soft tissues. This can be accomplished with the assistance of a therapist or there are things you can do on your own to impact your soft tissue. These included therapist generated techniques such as dry needling, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, and soft tissue massage. We also covered great self management techniques that you can do on your own which included foam rolling, stretching, and strengthening. We also talked about the importance of foam rolling as well as the best time to perform stretching.
Stay tuned for future posts relating to specific foam rolling exercises you can do as a runner to keep you happy and healthy hitting the pavement doing what you love!
Click here to go directly to my YouTube channel for a dedicated playlist of all things running health and wellness related.
Are you a runner trying to stay healthy but can’t train because pain is stopping you from meeting your running goals?
Are you worried that an injury will limit you from doing what you love like working out and running?
Have you wondered what it will cost you in the long run if you continue to run through pain?
Have you seen other medical providers in the past that just tell you to stop running?
We have a unique treatment approach that focuses on solving these problems with our clients. We combine manual hands-on techniques with guided supervised exercises to help you get stronger, pain-free and perform at your peak level to get you back on the road doing what you love. Our goal is to help keep you active and on the road, while recovering from injury by guiding you in ways to modify your training, rather than eliminating running!
The SPARK Physical Therapy Commitment
No long waits or multiple trips to providers’ offices every week. We see you either onsite at a partnering gym or in the comfort of your home when it is convenient with your schedule.
One on one for a full hour with your doctor of physical therapy, every visit. We provide you with a customized plan specifically designed for you, based off your unique injury and goals.
Full transparency in what you pay. You will never get a bill from us a couple of months after your visit.
Access and availability to you! Have a question about your pain or exercise program? Get an answer from your therapist directly.
If you’re in the Wallingford, CT area and are a runner that has been dealing with injuries we can help. We’d love to chat for a few minutes and see if you are a good fit for what we do. Fill in the contact request and we’ll set up a free 10-minute phone consultation with a doctor of physical therapy
Thank you for taking the time to read,
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You can teach an old dog new tricks!!! I have never considered myself a runner and I knew I needed to be smart about it because I am no spring chicken. Spark preached getting strong and healthy to be injury free and they practice what they preach. I am soooo glad I made the investment in me! I finished my half marathon last weekend and couldn’t be any happier! The program fed me all the steps I needed to essentially learn how to run long distance, build strength, nutrition help, a forum of other runners and probably most important was the 1:1 coaching. I had no idea how to tackle training for a 1/2 marathon and this program broke all of it down, had it individualized for me and we tweaked as we went to make sure I was staying healthy and strong. I had so many questions the week prior to my race and Coach Cat was always there for me and answering all the questions and issues I had-and believe me there were a lot! The biggest benefit I think I got was the strength. I am strong and fit. But most important was what I gained emotionally. I built confidence and strength I didn’t know I had, even at my age. Honestly could not have done this without Spark Healthy Runners!
My Healthy Runner journey started after I had battled bilateral achilles pain for a few months and was frustrated how it affected my running. As soon as I talked to Duane I knew I had made the right decision. His positivity, enthusiasm and genuine care are infectious. The training plan that was tailored to me included specific exercises to rehab my injury and I was so excited that I didn’t have to stop running. It took patience to only run slow for a few weeks but I trusted the process and it got me me to where I am now: running pain free. We made adjustments to the plan throughout whenever needed having someone in your corner that is always there with guidance and support throughout the process was invaluable.
I just ran my second half marathon, both with Duane’s coaching, and PR’d by over 9 minutes! I got all choked up in the last mile when I realized that I felt strong and could still kick it up a notch.
I’m so thankful for the Healthy Runner program, community and the entire coaching team for all the support!
Wanting to run more consistently, and to increase my long run distance and total weekly mileage, I was concerned about hip pain due to hip alignment issues. This is an issue I had when I trained for my first half marathon several years ago. Having listened to the Healthy Runner podcast for the past couple years, I knew Duane Scotti could help. I signed up for the four-month strength and running training program and am extremely happy with the results.
The program Duane and Coach Whitney developed for me was exactly what I needed. It was tailored to my needs and to my target race. Coach Whitney was very helpful, and with the biweekly coaching calls, we were able to fine tune the program based off my performance and feedback.
At the end of the program, I completed a 10K trail race feeling strong and pain free.
I highly recommend Duane Scotti and the Healthy Runner training programs.