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Chiropractic Approach to Running

The human body is designed for running long distances, and our musculoskeletal system has evolved in such a way as to minimize the forces produced during landing while maximizing our biomechanical efficiency.  The joints in our ankles and feet act as both our primary shock absorbers, distributing impact through movements such as pronation, and highly efficient levers that allow for powerful toe-off.   When all goes well, forces are effectively distributed through structures of the lower limb, pelvis, and spine designed to handle this repetitive loading.  When all does not go well, as in biomechanical problems or rapid changes to training routines, altered distribution or abnormal production of forces may result in some tissues being repeatedly overloaded, leading to injury.

When a runner sustains an injury, one of two things has usually happened.  Either a specific event has occurred resulting in the injury, such as stepping off the curb wrong and spraining an ankle, or there has been no memorable incident and they simply began noticing pain.  The latter, often termed an overuse injury, is much more common in runners and includes ailments like shin splints, Achilles tendonosis, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and iliotibial band syndrome.  Every year, an estimated sixty five to eighty five percent of runners will experience an injury that limits their ability to run, and many of these injuries will recur.  Unfortunately, the cause of these injuries is rarely as simple as running too much, and though conventional medical advice of rest and anti-inflammatory medication may allow tissues to heal temporarily, when running is resumed the symptoms will eventually return.  In actual fact, overuse injuries result from the interaction of multiple variables, many of which are unique to the individual runner.    Changing training parameters too quickly, the surfaces you train on, a change in footwear, or your sleep or nutritional habits can all contribute to physical breakdown.  Biomechanical factors, which relate to the way a runner’s individual anatomy functions as they run, are almost always involved as the repetitive and high impact nature of running places a tremendous amount of stress on the body. Without properly addressing the factors contributing to the injury, the runner has little chance of fully resolving the problem.

The approach of chiropractic care lends itself particularly well to running injuries as it focuses not just on the injury itself but on areas of dysfunction or abnormal biomechanics in the body that may be related.  Alterations in ankle or foot mobility, leg length inequalities, varying degrees of rotation in the hips or pelvis, or myofascial changes due to postural habits or previous trauma can change the way forces generated during running are absorbed by the body, leading to excessive stress on certain tissues and eventual injury.  With the ultimate goal being to restore normal movement and function throughout the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, chiropractic treatment can effectively address the underlying factors contributing to the injury, and help prevent the injury from recurring in the future.  For further information, please contact one of the chiropractors at evolve Nurturing Vitality.

Dr. Christine White

evolvevitalityChiropractic Approach to Running