For the past 16 years, I have worked with many runners and have been fortunate enough to be able to run for the past 8 years… BUT It hasn’t been all medals and flowers. In this blog post, I am going to answer some of the common questions I get from runners on how to prevent and treat common muscle strains, muscle tightness, and overuse injuries such as tendonitis. These are the strategies that I have trialed over the years both personally and with my clients to hit their running goals. I really wished I had someone to guide me early on to answer some serious questions like:
What should I be doing to take care of my soft tissue (muscles)?
Should I foam roll my muscles?
When is the best time to stretch?
Click the YouTube video below for a live stream I did on this topic if you are more of an auditory and visual learner like myself 🙂
The most common running related injuries are overuse injuries to the soft tissue. Whether it is hamstring strains, plantar fascitis, or iliotibial band syndrome. All of these involve some involvement to the soft tissue. Soft tissue refers to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue such as fascia. Treatment can be directed to the soft tissue as part of prehab to prevent injuries or may be provided during rehab following an injury. These can be broken up into 2 distinct groups. Therapist generated techniques and self management techniques.
Therapist Generated Techniques:
Dry needling is a skilled intervention that uses a thin filiform needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points, muscular, and connective tissues for the management of neuromusculoskeletal pain and movement impairments.
To hear if dry needling is the same as accupuncture click this link here and watch this video. If you are wondering what dry needling looks like and how it is performed for lower back pain click this link here or watch the video below for relief of hip pain.
Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)
The use of instruments to achieve effects and benefits of soft tissue mobilization. Various tools designed for different body regions can feel more comfortable for a patient due to the uniform pressure applied with each of the strokes.
Soft Tissue Massage
A technique in which a therapist uses their hands to directly impact a muscle or other soft tissues of your body.
Self Management Techniques:
A technique you can do in the comfort of your home or gym to help prime your body for your workouts or run. This can also be used after your runs to aide in recovery. Often times, foam rolling will “hurt so good” and most athletes I work with will feel looser after performing. I am acknowledging the research on why it feels good and the actual benefits are scarce in the research. Click here to read a nice article summing up the research and benefits of foam rolling.
Stretching your muscles and soft tissue are important to do both before your workouts or runs to prime your body as well as after to restore your muscles back to their resting length. Remember to perform active or dynamic stretching as part of a warm up before you run. Save the holding for prolonged positions or static stretching for after your runs.
Whenever we exercise a muscle with strength training we are causing physiological changes to the soft tissue aiding in the remolding process. This helps tissues become more resilient to the stresses that occur with running. This is using the power of exercise to not only get stronger to to aide in the healing process of certain soft tissues. An example of this would be using slow lowering calf raises to help chronic achilles pain. The lowering phase of the exercise is stimulating load to the tendon and aides in the remolding of that tendon so it can withstand force and not be painful during a run.
In this article I provided you with a brief overview of common running related questions I get regarding proper soft tissue care. One of the components to preventing and treating running related injuries is taking care of your soft tissues. This can be accomplished with the assistance of a therapist or there are things you can do on your own to impact your soft tissue. These included therapist generated techniques such as dry needling, instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, and soft tissue massage. We also covered great self management techniques that you can do on your own which included foam rolling, stretching, and strengthening. We also talked about the importance of foam rolling as well as the best time to perform stretching.
Stay tuned for future posts relating to specific foam rolling exercises you can do as a runner to keep you happy and healthy hitting the pavement doing what you love!
Click here to go directly to my YouTube channel for a dedicated playlist of all things running health and wellness related.
Are you a runner trying to stay healthy but can’t train because pain is stopping you from meeting your running goals?
Are you worried that an injury will limit you from doing what you love like working out and running?
Have you wondered what it will cost you in the long run if you continue to run through pain?
Have you seen other medical providers in the past that just tell you to stop running?
We have a unique treatment approach that focuses on solving these problems with our clients. We combine manual hands-on techniques with guided supervised exercises to help you get stronger, pain-free and perform at your peak level to get you back on the road doing what you love. Our goal is to help keep you active and on the road, while recovering from injury by guiding you in ways to modify your training, rather than eliminating running!
The SPARK Physical Therapy Commitment
No long waits or multiple trips to providers’ offices every week. We see you either onsite at a partnering gym or in the comfort of your home when it is convenient with your schedule.
One on one for a full hour with your doctor of physical therapy, every visit. We provide you with a customized plan specifically designed for you, based off your unique injury and goals.
Full transparency in what you pay. You will never get a bill from us a couple of months after your visit.
Access and availability to you! Have a question about your pain or exercise program? Get an answer from your therapist directly.
If you’re in the Wallingford, CT area and are a runner that has been dealing with injuries we can help. We’d love to chat for a few minutes and see if you are a good fit for what we do. Fill in the contact request and we’ll set up a free 10-minute phone consultation with a doctor of physical therapy
Thank you for taking the time to read,
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“I developed IT band syndrome during my first marathon training cycle last year and ended up in physical therapy for about 3 months. I was told not to run if I had any pain at all. I lost so much time “recovering” that I ended up deferring my registration to the next year. I spent the next summer training for the same marathon when about 6 weeks out, that familiar IT band pain returned. I could barely finish a mile. I didn’t want to go back to my physical therapist because I knew what he was going to tell me. Stop running. I was so frustrated and started to feel like marathons weren’t for me. I stumbled upon the healthy runner podcast and learned that I don’t have to stop running in order to recover from injury! I was skeptical about an online physical therapy session. But I reached out to Dr. Scotti and he was able to give me the tools to mitigate my pain within the first session! I was able to complete my training cycle and made it to the finish line of my first marathon with his help! I highly recommend!”
“I’d been dealing with Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy (PHT) for about 4 years and had been doing PT, but still had lingering pains. I just figured I’d have to suck it up and deal with it because that was as good as I was going to get. But then, I came across a podcast of Duane being interviewed by Jason Fitzgerald on PHT and how he overcame the injury, and my curiosity was piqued. I met with him virtually and he has been a GODSEND! I’m able to sit as I type this! I can bend over and get in and out of cars without pain! And, I’m RUNNING again!!! It is amazing to be able to do things that I haven’t been able to do without pain since 2016!!! Thank you so much Duane for being an incredible PT!!”
“I suffered from IT band syndrome for four years before seeing Dr. Scotti in April 2020. Before then, I couldn’t run more than about 10 minutes without stabbing pain near my left knee. I’d seen various orthopedists, physical therapists, and chiropractors looking for some relief. My career needed me to run a mile and a half within a certain amount of time, and it was impossible to do so with the knee pain. I saw Dr. Scotti and he immediately got to work! That first visit, he helped me understand the anatomy and underlying cause of my knee pain (aka IT Band syndrome). Once I understood what was happening, the course of treatment made so much sense. Not only did he have online videos of all the recommended exercises to treat the problem, his “healthy runner” Facebook group, Podcast, and YouTube videos held a wealth of information and supplemented my plan. I soon understood that running wasn’t just a casual hobby – it’s a sport and one that deserves dedication and focus. Without his dedication to the sport and his community, I wouldn’t have realized this! Over the next few months, I had many ups and downs – victories and failures – and even some tears! Two steps forward and one step back. Dr. Scotti always checked in between appointments and tweaked my plan if needed. By August, I was regularly running 3-4 miles with barely any pain! If I did get pain, it was because my dedication and focus were lacking – and I quickly picked it back up and overcame. I’m so thankful I took another chance at having my knee looked at and trusted someone else. I run regularly now and am really enjoying it. I can’t thank Dr. Scotti enough and would highly recommend him to anyone having trouble.”