April 2014: To run or not to run?


An article just in time for the Champfleury run!


Running as a sport is showing a huge boom in Quebec and running events are multiplying all over the province. These events create a feeling of belonging and accomplishment and this discipline, costing very little, is accessible to everyone. One of the major factors in this boom is also the rise in consciousness of the population about the importance of physical activity. All these factors create an interest in running from the young to the older and from the most athletic to the beginners.


However, there is another side to this story; about 50% of the people who start running get hurt. This trend is clearly visible in our chiropractic clinics; we have never seen as many running related injuries! Sadly, beginners often underestimate the intensity and preparation involved in starting this sport. A musculo-skeletal system that is not ready to endure the joint impact of running can get damaged quickly. Here are some pointers on what to look out for before starting a running training program:
– A weight problem: We know, this is ironic; you want to lose weight running! The initiative is great, but some directives need to be kept in mind. For a person with a lot of weight to lose, start with brisk walking, swimming and elliptical before starting to run. This will allow you to lose some of the extra weight before putting your joints at risk with running. For a slighter weight problem, start slow with walking and running intervals that can gradually be raised in intensity.
–   Your back: you need to take care of discomfort or pain in your back or neck before starting a running regimen. Your chiropractor will help you determine if running can be undertaken at the same time as a treatment or if you’re better off taking care of the problem before running. If the problem is located in your vertebrae, running can aggravate your condition in the short-term, which will not allow you to reach the long term benefits of running. This is why it is ideal to have chiropractic care during the first weeks of a running regimen.
– Your hips, knees and ankles: Any injury that has left symptoms in your joints needs to be evaluated before beginning a running regimen. The goal here is not to stop you from running, but to give you the necessary tools so running can be safe and enjoyable. Recent or old injuries might need ligament support (taping), specific muscular stretches, mobilizations and adjustments, inflammation control, proprioception work and muscular stability exercises during the initiation phase of running.
– Your posture: even if you have no pain and you simply want to get back into shape using running, a postural exam is necessary. Postural anomalies can be completely asymptomatic but, after the stress of running, can create pain. When running, the joint tension is much higher than when walking or other daily activities. You might be at risk of injuring your weight bearing joints; the ones supporting your weight. Here are some examples of postural anomalies that should all be evaluated: an accentuated lower back curve, a rounded upper back, shoulders turned inward and the head held foward, uneven hips or leg length discrepency, knees turned inward or outward, flat feet, etc. The goal, once again, is to give you the necessary tools to maintain and better your posture so running can be safe.

Running is a sport with a huge potential. People who have incorporated it gradually with the help of a health professional to take care of their musculo-skeletal system can be proud to run for many years. Your chiropractor has the same goal as you; making running a long-term sport, for long-term health! As a team, you will work together to make sure your body can keep up the pace!