October's Backup Challenge (translate: Don't Overtrain)

Your homework from the 5k was to write down anything that ached during or after your run.  Today, we’ll look at the causes and effects of poor running form.  As we talk about earlier, humans were born to run, but as we grow up, bad posture lead to bad shoes to accommodate bad posture, and the so the vicious cycle goes.

Here are some of the common aches and injuries caused by poor running form:

Plantar Fasciitis: One of the most common causes of heel pain which involves pain inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot — connecting your heel bone to your toes. It’s often worst in the morning when you get out of bed.

  • Causes: Pushing with feet (instead of pulling), heel striking leading to pronation (rolling inwards).
  • Fix: Wall pulls, wall runs, lunge drill, strengthen glutes.

Shin Splints: Most common running injury, it is caused by inflammation of the sheath surrounding your tibia (shin bone). Left untreated (or unrested), it can lead to hairline fractures that are incredibly painful and can take weeks to recover from.

  • Causes: Pushing with feet, landing with flexed ankles, landing on balls of feet and not letting the heels kiss the ground.
  • Fix: Bunny hop drill, wall pulls, wall runs, lunge drill, draw the ABC’s with your toes, ice/rest, roll calves with roller/lacrosse ball.

Calf pain/tightness: Same cause/fix as shin splints.
Patellar Tendonitis Syndrome (PTS): Keeping in mind that the force you create when you land while running is 2.4x your body weight, the excessive stress on your patellar tendon caused by heel striking will lead to potentially chronic inflammation.

  • Causes: Striking with heel, leading to pronation.
  • Fix: Wall pulls, wall runs, lunge drill

Hamstring Pulls: Most people report hammy pulls during sprinting. Conventional wisdom had been telling runners for years to reach and push to generate speed. Unfortunately, the more you reach back with your leg, the longer the lever you create with your hammy. When the poor thing is stretched at its limit as you contract it to reach even further, a strain, pull, or tear is inevitable.

  • Causes: Mostly caused by pushing and reaching back with your leg as you run.
  • Fix: Hammy stretches, wall runs, lunge drill, hamstring stretches
  • IT Band Syndrome: Unfortunately most of your problems with your IT Band has been decades in the making since the average urban human spends much of his life in a seated position. This creates a tight immobile IT Band instead of a pliable one. Its job is to stabilize the knee, especially when the hips are below the knee. The quad should running smoothly over the band, but scar tissue between the muscle and the band (and a weak glute) can add to the problem.

    • Causes: sitting all day at work
    • Fix: Roll your IT band. Yes, even if it makes you cry or curse. Roll it every day.

    Lower Back Pain: When people first learn about the POSE method and the “fall” position needed to generate forward momentum, they often misinterpret this as a bending forward at the hips (Think the beginning of a stripper stretch or RDL). This is mostly caused by our self preservation instinct and counterbalancing so that we won’t fall forward. Ironically, the fall position necessitates us getting leaning so that we almost do fall, whereupon our foot lands on the ground directly underneath us. The lean is from the ankles and not the hips.

  • Causes: bending over at the hips while running.
  • Fix: Wall run, partner assisted lean starts.
  • Since most of the above injuries involve inflammation, let me take a moment to plug our friendly fish oils. Get in the habit of prevention rather than ignoring the problem and then masking the eventual pain with NSAIDS (advil/tylenol/etc) instead. You can’t “pop a couple of fish oils” and expect instant results, however. Reread Marcus‘ and Sean’s post on your Rx’d fish oil for athletes.

    In short, there’s good swelling and bad swelling that occurs when you exercise. The good swelling is necessary for recovery. The bad leads to injury. NSAIDS only alleviate the good swelling and not the bad. Fish oils only treat the bad swelling. Which one do you want to take?

    WOD 10.12.10

    Press 3×5 (5×3 for those that have resets)

    For total reps:
    1 min stations:
    Pull Ups
    Wallball Shots
    Box Jumps
    1 min rest

    45 sec stations/45 sec rest
    30 sec/30 sec rest
    15 sec/15 sec rest

    6 Responses to “Running Diagnosis”

    October 12, 2010 at 7:30 AM

    so my crappy IT bands are a result of sitting around on my butt my whole life?! dang, i knew being so sedentary would come back and bite me in the ass someday… :)

    October 12, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    So when I used to run back in school I suffered two big injuries. Tendonitis of the knee and of the ankle. Ankle tendonitis is not that common? I wish I would have known about the fish oil back then because I probably would have healed better. Great post!

    October 12, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    Good post! I used to have knee and shin issues before I switched to vibrams, but they went away totally after. Now I have problems on longer runs with the insides of my thighs, kind of by the groin area. It only seems to act up if I’m running longer than 3 miles. What’s up with that?

    October 12, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    Great post Ruth! I love running and I think I’ve had ALL of these issues at one time or another–thank you for explaining them better and giving some fixes!! This is awesome!

    October 12, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    Before I started Crossfit in March, a 5K run was almost unthinkable for me. It would have taken me over an hour to finish and that’s assuming I would have actually showed up. But that was then…I made up the 5K run yesterday and felt pretty good afterwards. I was ecstatic about my time! No shin splints, no debilitating foot cramps from my flat feet. I was ready to go into the weight set as well, but Ruth and Marcus (very wisely) had me lay off. I don’t have the words to express how grateful I am to our fantastic trainers and the uber-supportive Intrepid athlete family. All I can say is “Thank You”.

    P.S. Extra shout out to BriAnna for bringing me into the fold.

    Michael H
    October 12, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    Any of you guys know where I can pick up some Inov8 locally?