Tag Archives: sciatica

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!

Piriformis Syndrome

piriformis-syndrome

One common cause of pain down the leg or leg pain is Piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is located in the lower part of the spine (sacrum), connects to the thighbone (femur), and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is susceptible to injury from a slip and fall, hip arthritis, or a difference in leg length. Such situations can cause cramping and spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, thereby pinching the sciatic nerve – causing inflammation and pain.

Muscle spasms and/or contraction of the piriformis muscle itself can lead to pain along the back of the thigh, down to the knee, causing a possible loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the sole of the foot. The piriformis syndrome can often mimic the well known complaint known as sciatica.  Because of the similar symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed as sciatica. The main difference between sciatica and piriformis syndrome is the cause. What both of these complaints have in common is that both can produce pain, and/or numbness and tingling below the knee and into the foot.

This has been the ‘special of the week’  in my practice.  It can be left or right, depending on the activity that can irritate the area.

Who Does This Affect?

Many athletes are prone to piriformis syndrome.  The athlete’s cause is primarily due to improper stretching and warm-up exercises as well as overuse during activity. In this case it is most likely that the piriformis muscle is irritated and usually in spasm.

People who spend long hours sitting are prone to this syndrome.  It can be from sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, students, riding in a car or truck for long periods of time, and sitting on a wallet.

People who sit for extended periods of time, especially with poor posture are prone to the piriformis being irritated.

What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?

The primary cause is due to tightness and contracture of the piriformis muscle. In this case the piriformis muscle is shortened and does not allow for the smooth movement of the sciatic nerve during leg motion.
The causes of piriformis myospasm are varied such as overuse, excessive fast walking without proper warm up and stretching, prolonged sitting.

Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

As for treatment of piriformis syndrome, many variables can hinder your successful recovery:  including but not limited to smoking, obesity, job limitations and improper exercise (not warming up and stretching).  It is very rare to have a piriformis syndrome from a one-off direct trauma to the area.

Any treatment plan must include stretching of the gluteal muscles as well as stretching of the piriformis muscles.

Chiropractors can assist you by recommending the proper exercises and stretches to perform. Many Chiropractors may also suggest some form of muscle therapy to the piriformis muscle in the gluteal region in order to assist in relaxing these muscles.

Relevant adjustments to the spine, pelvis, sacrum as well as hip may be required to relieve the pressure from the nerve being trapped from the piriformis muscle.

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.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, there are incredible changes occurring in a woman’s body and the creation of delicate new life within.  The significance of pregnancy cannot be over stated.  Chiropractic care during pregnancy is focused on caring for both mother and unborn baby.

Studies have shown women who have consistent chiropractic care throughout their pregnancies have shorter and less painful labours, with fewer complications and fewer interventions.

I can speak from experience not only as a chiropractor, but 12 years ago as a pregnant patient myself.  I am fortunate to have experienced the health benefits from chiropractic care personally, and passed on to my child as well.

Dani - pregnant

Why is Chiropractic care important during pregnancy?

The nervous system is like the “electricity” for the body.  It supplies this “electricity” to every  body system including the reproductive system. Therefore, keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body work more effectively.  This is true throughout all stages of life, and very important throughout pregnancy for a woman.  Chiropractic care is also a drugless way to manage symptoms of pregnancy, such as back pain.  A common misconception is that back pain during pregnancy is “normal”.  Back pain is not normal, it is only common.

A few aspects of pregnancy that may lead to spinal misalignments:

  • Rapid increase/decrease in weight
  • Postural changes
  • Stress
  • Changes in sleep patterns & positions
  • Altered appetite and eating habits
  • Loosening of body ligaments to allow for growth and labour
  • Flat feet/pronation due to weight gain/loose ligaments
  • Emotional changes (hormonal shifts/new family stress)

Not only does what you eat and drink during pregnancy affect the unborn baby, but the way you sleep, sit, stand, walk, drive and handle stress will affect the baby too.  Your baby needs your nervous system to be functioning optimally in order to develop correctly.

Is chiropractic care safe during pregnancy?

The answer is Yes!  There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. General wellness of women who are pregnant or trying to conceive is a routine treatment.

Chiropractors that have been trained to work with pregnant women may use tables that adapt to suit a pregnant woman’s body, and will use special techniques that avoid unneeded pressure on the abdomen.  Exercises and stretches that are safe to use during pregnancy are recommended by chiropractors to compliment any adjustments made to your spine.

Why should I have chiropractic care during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, there are several anatomical and physiological changes that occur to the woman’s body. The following changes could result in a misaligned spine or joint:

  • Protruding abdomen and increased back curve (lumbar lordosis)
  • Pelvic changes
  • Postural adaptations

Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is another reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. When the pelvis is misaligned it may reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby.  A misaligned pelvis may also make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery.  When the pelvis or lumbar spine is misaligned, there are also increased chances of developing back pain, groin pain or sciatica.

What are the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy?

Chiropractic care during pregnancy can include a variety of health benefits for women who are pregnant. Potential benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include:

  • Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
  • Controlling symptoms of nausea
  • Reducing the time of labour and delivery
  • Relieving back pain, neck pain or joint pain
  • Preventing a  potential caesarean section

What about chiropractic care and breech deliveries?

The late Larry Webster, D.C., Founder of the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association, developed a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment which enables chiropractors to establish balance in the pregnant woman’s pelvis and reduce undue stress to her uterus and supporting ligaments. This balanced state in the pelvis makes it easier for a breech baby to turn naturally. The technique is known as the Webster Technique.

Post-natal:

After your pregnancy, chiropractic can help to ensure that the loosened ligaments and joints to get back into their proper places.  A spinal check-up is recommended for mother and baby to assist in enabling optimal nervous system function.