Tag Archives: discs

Running Injuries

running injuries

Now that it is Springtime in the southern hemisphere, it is typical for most people to want to shed the extra weight that they may have put on over the winter months.  It has been my experience in dealing with patients on a regular basis, that moderation is key and a plan and specific goals to work toward achieving helps assist in a successful springtime exercise program.  The other key to remember is what you eat.  Exercise without watching what goes in the mouth, will not bring the health benefits as doing both.  Same with only watching what you eat, without exercising.  The two go hand in hand.

One big exercise that is commonly chosen is running.  I have heard people say that they’ll take that up and get out in the fresh air, and the weight will drop, and it will look after itself.

Wrong! Running to lose weight and/or keep fit can invariably lead to running injuries.  I highly recommend educating yourself, doing some ‘homework’ and getting informed on some of the possible injuries associated with running. Then make a wise and informed decision if running is the best option for you.

Many Running Injuries Are Caused By Overuse

When you think about taking up running, or just starting to run, it’s best to learn how to prevent running injuries.

The Most Common Running Injuries

•    Knee
•    ITB (Iliotibial Band)
•    Foot
•    Calf

Chondromalacia, or Runner’s Knee is due to wearing of the cartilage under the patella (kneecap) when the patella is tracked incorrectly while running, causing pain in the knee.

Lateral or side knee pain is usually due to Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome.  This band runs from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee and inserts just below the knee.  The ITB is meant to stabilize the knee while running.  If this gets irritated, it can get inflamed and cause pain in the knee or band itself. This leads to ITB Syndrome.

Another contributor to knee pain as well as foot pain, is Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the thick fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot.  It’s job is to absorb the shock of the running motion.  Plantar fasciitis is when this tissue gets inflamed due to wear and tear, resulting in pain.  This can be temporary or a long-term problem.

Shin splints are usually caused by stepping up the volume of training too quickly.  Achilles tendonitis can cause leg pain and or ankle pain, and may eventually lead to rupture of the tendon itself.

Running May Lead To Back & Pelvis Injuries

Besides the injuries listed above, some runners may suffer from acute back pain, pelvis or hip pain, groin pain, and chronic back pain.  Running can also irritate the discs in the lower back, which may lead to things such as Sciatica.

Running Injuries Take Long To Heal

Running injuries may take months, or even longer to heal, easily putting fitness and weight loss programs on the back burner.  There are also the injuries that may lead to other problems that cause long term effects that can irritate other areas of the body.  I believe that it is wise to learn about the preventative measures so that we can make better choices and better decisions on the type of exercise we undertake.

Running for exercise is not for everyone – but if you currently run, or are thinking of taking up running for exercise, then the following may be of benefit to you:

Useful Tips For Preventing Running Injuries

1.    Strengthen the areas which are vulnerable.
2.    Buy and utilize the correct footwear.
3.    Use the Correct running posture
4.    Warm up before your running workout.
5.    Gradually step up your running program.
6.    Cool down appropriately to minimize stiffness and soreness.

Check with a health professional such as a chiropractor or sports massage therapist for advice that is unique to your specific needs.  Each body is different, so to adopt generic advice is not wise, nor will it assist in prevention or overall achieving of goals.

Preventing injuries involves listening to your body and basic common sense, so make sure that is Number One on your list!

Sciatica

The sciatic nerves are the largest and longest nerves of the body, about the size of your thumb in diameter. Each of the two sciatic nerves is formed by four or five nerves branching off the spinal cord and running down the back of each leg. Sciatica is a severe pain in the leg caused from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve.

What Causes Sciatica?

Pain is caused when the sciatic nerve roots are irritated, scraped, twisted, stretched or pinched as they exit the spine. Causes of this may be chemical, physical or the emotional stress of everyday living. A full-blown sciatic flare-up can involve the entire sciatic nerve path resulting in symptoms of lower back pain, burning, cramping or numbness that radiates into the thighs, legs, ankles, feet and toes. Pain may also be limited to various points along the nerve such as the buttocks, knee and calf.

One of the major causes of sciatica is the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. This can be associated with or without disc problems. It can be accompanied by the bulging or herniation of the discs which separate each spinal bone. This can irritate or put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they leave the spinal cord. The result can be an intense pain shooting down either or both legs. Other possible causes are pregnancy and childbirth, tumours, and non-spinal disorders such as diabetes, constipation, or sitting on one’s back pocket wallet.

Can Chiropractic Help?

Sciatica (like other health problems that can be traced to the spine) often responds dramatically to the restoration of normal spinal function through chiropractic care.

The chiropractic approach is to use carefully directed and controlled “adjustments” to remove the interference from spinal and associated structures. These chiropractic adjustments can be very effective in reducing nerve irritation and pain that is associated with it.

Sometimes the cause of sciatica is beyond the scope of chiropractic care. If this is the case, your chiropractor will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

Disc Problems

Disc Overview

The bones of the spine are separated by tough cartilage pads called discs.  Healthy discs are flexible and thick (like a wet sponge) allowing bending and twisting motions. Unhealthy discs are stiff and hard (like a dry sponge) and prone to injuries such as bulging or herniation.  Firstly, they act as the spine’s shock absorbers.  Secondly, they allow the spine to move in many different directions.  Individually, the discs offer very little movement, but in teamwork with the spinal bones, they give the spine just enough flexibility for various ranges of motion.

What are discs made of?

Discs are mainly made up of water, collagen and proteoglycans – a protein found in human connective tissues which helps to attract water and keep the discs hydrated. The inner gel-like material (nucleus pulposus) contains more water than the outer coat (annulus fibrosus).

This water content is very important because it keeps the discs plump and healthy, which enables them to function more effectively.

How do discs stay healthy?

Unlike other structures in the human body, spinal discs do not have a direct blood supply. Instead they get their nutrients and moisture from a kind of pumping action as the spinal bones above and below move in all directions.

This is really important to understand because it is central to why most disc problems develop, as well as providing the key to reversing disc problems after they have emerged.

Without this regular pumping action, spinal discs are unable to get the mosture and nutrients they need for optimum health.

Why do discs become unhealthy?

Over long periods of time, due to gravity, dysfunction in the spinal joints and accumulated trauma, the discs become starved of adequate water and nutrients and begin to become dehydrated and malnourished.

This process can lead to the discs losing their plumpness, causing them to become flattened in appearance and less elastic – and so affecting their ability to function properly.

This is what is known as ‘Degenerative Disc Disease.’

Also, the outer layer of dehydrated discs can become prone to thinning and cracking. This weakening of the outer layer may result in the inner gel pushing out, causing the outer layer to bulge.

Constant and continual compression prevents much-needed oxygen and nutrients from entering the disc. This ongoing starvation causes the once-tough outer layers of the disc to deteriorate (wear & tear) allowing the disc to become injured or diseased.

Disc damage can occur anywhere in the spine. However, the discs of the neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine) are the most commonly injured.

Because of the way each disc is attached to the spinal bones (vertebrae) above and below, a disc cannot “slip” as commonly thought. However, trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to tear, bulge, herniate, dessicate or rupture. This can be quite painful, putting pressure on the nerve roots and/or spinal cord, interfering with their function.

Chiropractic and Disc Problems

The chiropractic approach to disc problems is to help restore better motion and position to the spinal joint or joints involved. Besides reducing disc bulging, better spinal function helps reduce inflammation and begin the slow process of healing the surrounding soft tissues.

While results can’t be guaranteed, many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills, by choosing conservative chiropractic care. The traditional approach to disc problems often ignores spinal function.  If detected early enough, conservative chiropractic care is not only safer, but is often more effective than back surgery.