breaking away....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Running Injuries and Triathlon Racing

Triathlon training is the best form of training even if you are only doing running events. Most runners come to triathlon after injury to benefit from the crosstraining. In triathlon training, the biggest risk still comes from run training. I have suffered from plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinosis, partial tear of the achilles, stress fracture of the 5th metatarsal,muscle tears and tendon ruptures.

Some of the solutions to these problems are not as expensive as you think. For Plantar Fasciitis I began with the most expensive which was a $400.00 orthotics, that ended miserably. I ran a race in what was told to me to be a sports orthotic and ended up with an immense red bruise on the arch of my foot. I surrendered these to the back of my closet and purchased Sole's Heat Moldables for approximately 40 dollars. These helped me get over my issue and allowed me to continue running.

I looked back on my running history as I was a distance runner in high school. I remember every 3 years having to take a year off because of my feet being too sore to walk, I guess I have been battling this for my entire running life. I figured if I have always had to stop I must be doing something wrong. I purchased Chi Running and read that tried it and realized the writing was not to the degree where you could self teach, so I purchased Pose Running. This is a book you can learn from. I began to switch my running style, but did this slowly, the brain takes a lot of time to reprogram. I also introduced hip strength work into my regular running schedule. This is essential to allow your hips to be free and stable while running. I was starting to have success.

I decided to purchase Newton shoes and loved them, they were a little tricky as they had a negative angle from forefoot to heel, a slightly elevated forefoot is opposite to every shoe on the market, so you have to expect your body to not be totally happy with this. I enjoyed midfoot running and started to feel like I could train running again. I began training for longer ultra's, the Canadian Death Race was the goal.

I used mizunos runners for most of my training as it was trail and not road running, so the Newtons would have to wait. My first attempt to solo the Death Race had me coming down the back side of Leg 2 during the rain and on a slippery clay slope. I fell numerous times and landed on my feet with by body, crushing them many times. I made it out to leg 4 and pulled the plug. I had feet so swollen I couldn't walk without shoes due to the bruised bones. I still managed to do Ironman Canada 4 weeks later in my Newton's taking is really easy. I began teaching aerobics shortly after and ended up going for x-rays as stepping sideways was too painful. I had a stress fracture of the 5th Metatarsal.

I tried to keep teaching while injured and tore a tendon in my ankle from compensating and always rolling my weight inwards away from my little toe where the pain was. This is unfortunately how we all go downhill, we refuse to listen to our bodies and stop before we make things worse.

The Newton's hit the bin shortly after my next 1/2 Ironman. While running in a shoe that has lugs under the metatarsal you will always have something pushing up on your broken metatarsal, any other shoe, doesn't specifically put individual pressure evenly across your metatarsals, you can compensate to a degree. During that run, I suffered a lot more tendonitis issues than I care to say. I spent 21 km trying to avoid landing on my foot.

Due to fighting issues all the time I research a lot of solutions, after the fact. Blisters, I recommend Injinji socks, they are toe socks, they separate your toes so that the blisters from overlap do not occur, this was a fantastic discovery and I still put them on for 1/2 Ironman and full Ironman events, shorter events I go sockless.

Bigger shoes, so many of us try to find something that our toes reach the end of, this isn't smart is you want to save your toenails. You also blister and get foot pain from a shoe that binds the toes and keeps them from spreading out. I have found that my zoot zoonies with the carbon arch are like slippers, I do not feel them on my feet, they are light racer /trainers and have only the arch, no other stability in them. I have purchased Vibram toe shoes, but due to my inability to start over after a run break, I will put those into the plan for this year.

Proper treatment, I discovered graston technique from my Chiropractor. THis is a treatment where the scar tissue is broken up with a metal tool, he usually follows the treatment up with ultrasound. After the treatment I would train to restore range of motion to the area again. This has helped more than other treatments I have tried. I also use Magnesium Gluconate or Magnesium Citrate to help with reabsorbing the calcium from the scar tissue.

Essentially fatigue is one of the leading causes of injury along with footwear. We wear a shoe that determines how our foot will work. Essentially most shoes prevent your foot from working at all. So the muscles and bones and tendons are not being built up to sustain the impact as they are always cushioned. If you remove the shoes, build up the feet by building in foot exercises, barefoot walking in toe shoes, trail hiking is great for building ankle and foot strength. Build up slowly to allow your body to adapt and not get stressed to injury.

This is hard to do for people who are always doing long events, my suggestion is to do it now and pass on the long events for a year, build up your feet and legs, your mobility in your hips to allow your knees to be stable, build up your medial glutes to allow your leg to support the body with perfect alignment. Build up your core so that you can keep your posture while you do your events.

Fatigue is a sign that you have passed the point where you can hold your posture correctly to allow your body to function in the normal range. When your posture starts to go, the injuries start to mount, the tracking of the legs gets sloppy, the ability to stabilize your joints on impact becomes more difficult.

I give hip strength work to the athletes I train, it happens right after a run. I thought this was the answer. I now watch and realize if they are not in proper posture they are working the wrong muscles. To do a side leg raise to work on your medial glutes is a good idea, but it you point your toe up, you are moving into the hip flexor, you need to lead with the heal to ensure you are using the medial glute. There are so many small adjustments we make that we do not know, this is where we need help.

I am now writing more specific hip mobility work, it works like dynamic stretching with strength. I am putting people through many exercises that force them to always engage proper posture for each move. Mostly we do not use weight, but the results are looking up. It is an incredibly tough workout to execute properly, so I think this year I will be doing classes specifically on posture and mobility for strength work.

How does this translate into how this article began, the solution to preventing running injuries is to properly assess your current muscular balance, your mobility, and your posture. By correcting the posture problems we can then execute the exercises in the correct range that our body was built. By addressing our limited mobility we can begin to correct the chain reaction for injury. If your hip is meant to be mobile and you are stabilizing it (protecting it), then the mobility or movement will come from your lower back and your knee. Your lower back is not meant to be that flexible, so lower back issues become a problem. Your knees are meant to be stable, not mobile, so if you have no mobility in the hip it will force your knee to become more mobile. This is a recipe for knee issues, ankle and foot issues, the chain moves up and down the body.

If you can balance your body, correct the flaws, improve your daily posture to where you are running with perfect posture and form, there are fewer issues that can come up. If you read the research, injuries come from the footwear, try to build your body up to handle the stress of training, that includes your feet. Try to get rid of the cushioning shoes and allow your body to work the way it was meant to. Get up from your sitting position many times a day and do glute and posture activation exercises so that the fatigue of sitting doesn't cause a permanent posture problem. These are all things we can do to ensure we stay healthy.

Run training is enjoyable when it doesn't hurt. When it does hurt, you want to understand why, do not ignore it. Treat your body like your temple or hot sports car, treat it with TLC.