Many endurance athletes experience lingering / nagging discomfort throughout the year that they just “live with” and “train through” and are able to continue doing what they love to do. Most of the time this doesn’t result in any severe long term effects. However, it does take a little bit of joy out of what you’re doing and will affect your ability to perform at maximum capacity both in training and on race day. Many of these long term injuries can be addressed with a combination of physical therapy / chiropractic care and some time in the gym working on specific strength. Some of the most common injuries experienced by runners, triathletes and cyclists that should be addressed so they can heal fully include:
1. Plantar Fasciitis: This is pain on the bottom of the foot, specifically at the antero-medial aspect of the heel and perhaps into the arch of the foot. The most common causes for plantar fasciitis include poor foot and ankle mechanics, improper footwear, tightness through the posterior kinetic chain (including calves and hamstrings), and muscular imbalances in the hips and legs.
2. Patellofemoral Pain: This is diffuse/unlocalized pain deep in the knee that is “hard to touch”. It often feels like a burning type pain that can be sharp at times. At first it improves with activity and progresses to pain with activity. A classic sign is “movie-goers sign” which is pain deep to the patella with prolonged sitting. Patellofemoral pain is usually caused by a problem with patellar tracking that is related to function of the quads, hamstrings and glute muscles. It can also be associated with faulty foot and ankle mechanics. PFPS is so common in runners that it is also labelled by some as “Runner’s Knee”.
3. Iliotibial Band Syndrome: This presents as localized pain at the lateral aspect of the knee. ITB pain starts as pain that comes on after a predictable amount of time running and progresses to the point where the pain may be present right from the start of your run. Most common cause of ITB pain is imbalance /and dysfunction of the glute muscles. In a cyclist it can also be caused by improper placement of cleats on the cycling shoes.
These are three of many injuries sustained by endurance athletes. All three of them can be managed / prevented / healed with a combination of therapy, specific strength training, and changes in sport biomechanics. Now is the time to start feeling better – make next season a season of feeling great and performing at your best!