Summer is on its way. If you’ve been hibernating through winter you may now be waking up and joining tribes looking to get fit and healthy again. Running, swimming, fitness classes, tough mudders …all great ways of getting fit… and if you’re not careful great ways to get injured.
Often the desire to fastrack or “hack” fitness levels can lead to overuse of under-adapted muscles. These are muscles that haven’t had the time to adjust to the new exercise regime. I’ve listed a few of the most common injuries I see in my clinic below:
The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that runs underneath the sole of the foot. Its main function is to stabilize the midfoot and forefoot during running. If the foot strikes in an unstable fashion the plantar fascia can be put under significant load, particularly as the heel begins to rise and the fixed length of fascia is stretched. This results in plantar fasciitis – inflammation of the ligaments and tendons running under the foot.
The root cause isn’t always the plantar fascia. Tightness in the calf and soleus (wide band of muscle running underneath the calf) can increase tension on the heel tightening the plantar fascia causing pain. The best solution for this type of injury is to lay off the affected foot for as long as possible. Massage and acupuncture to the plantar fascia and the calves can ease the tension considerably. Consider low impact training such as cycling or swimming to give the foot time to heal.
The shoulder is a complex joint. Whilst a correctly functioning shoulder gives huge range of movement, that huge range of movement belies greater propensity for injury. The four rotator cuff muscles – the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis all work together to maintain structural integrity of the joint. Overuse or dysfunction of any one of these muscles can pull the shoulder out of alignment and create pain in and around the shoulder joint. Sometimes this pain may mimic arthritis in the joint, sometimes the pain radiates down the arm.
And sometimes shoulder pain isn’t shoulder pain at all – it emanates from tight neck muscles (ropey muscles called scalenes that run down the side of the neck are a prime suspect).
The knee joint allows the leg to flex and extend. Numerous muscles and ligaments insert into the knee joint on both the inside and the outside of the joint. Tightness or an imbalance of power in any one side can knock the patella out of alignment causing increased wear and pain. Treating the knee often involves treating surrounding muscles in the lower leg, thigh and sometimes even the back. It is possible to run when suffering knee pain although its wise to reduce mileage, take more rest days and always stop when you feel the pain.