by Dr. Andrew Glogowski, Active Family and Sports Chiropractic (and 5K Committee Member!)
If you have high arches or flat feet, the stabilization at the ankle joint is compromised. Simply, if you don't have a shoe insert like a SuperFeet (found at running stores) or orthotic with these issues, your tissues will begin breaking down. Each one of our body parts can handle a certain amount of stress (capacity) and when load exceeds capacity injuries arise. Decreased range of motion (ROM) at the hip and ankle joints cause your muscles, tendons and ligaments to overload. Imagine someone pushing against you every time you try to move that would be a very tiring day. The repetition of running will create formation of scar tissue adhesion on our muscles due to suboptimal oxygen levels. Think of areas of glue laying on a hamstring. This will cause weakness in the hamstring because it cannot contract well and adhesions will make it shorter because adhesions are literally preventing the muscle from lengthening. This will cause other areas to overcompensate and you end up with trigger points.
It takes a skilled chiropractor or physical therapist to remove scar tissue. You can maintain your joint ROM and keep your muscles lengthened by yourself. It doesn't take a long time and you probably have the things you need at home. The following should be done pre-run. The latest research says that we shouldn't be foam rolling but rather smashing our muscles. Doesn't that sound like fun? So rather than going back and forth on your quad, find a knot and hold on. This can lead to big increases in your ROM. My rule is no more then 30-60 seconds on any given spot and move along. I prefer people use the foam "smasher" on the larger muscles like the quad and using a tennis ball/lacrosse ball on smaller muscles like the ones in the hip and lower leg.
Our bodies possess a high capacity to compensate before you can ever feel pain. You see this in people with shorter strides, toeing out, and runners who "bounce." Having proper ankle stability, keeping your muscles lengthened, and having optimal ROM in your hips and ankles will keep you running strong. Be consistently proactive and you will help prevent an injury. Pain is never normal, so if you are running with pain seek professional help.
Dr. Andrew is a licensed chiropractor and practices Active Release Therapy (ART) in Exton, PA. Visit www.activeexton.com or call (610) 524-6680 for more information.