In this series of articles on running injuries, Dr Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CES, and founder EBFA Fitness, shares her knowledge to empower runners with quick workouts, techniques, tips to prevent injury, and advanced recovery tips to get into the best running shape and stay in the best running shape ever!
A couple weeks ago on what was a seemingly routine Monday morning, my office was unusually busy with emergency patients and referrals from the neighborhood Urgent Care Center. From the number of ankle sprains and stress fractures I knew that we were entering one of the busiest seasons for a Podiatrist – Spring!
As we enter the Spring season we are greeted with warmer weather and longer days – both of which favor some of our favorite outdoor workouts.
One of the most common outdoor workouts and probably most popular activity for maintaining a healthy lifestyle is running. Despite all the great benefits of running, it is not without risk of injury. With over 70% of runners experiencing some type of injury, integrating effective post-run recovery techniques can help runners avoid unnecessary pain and inflammation.
Specializing in Sports Medicine, I treat many patients who are recovering from running-related overuse injuries including plantar fasciitis, shin splints and stress fractures. Unlike acute injuries, overuse injuries are the direct result of repetitive micro-trauma to the tissue. All tissue has a certain threshold of stress that it can withstand. As the stress continues or the frequency of micro-trauma increases, the tissue will eventually break down and the result is pain, inflammation and limited movement.
Post Run Recovery
A tip that I give to all my runners is that the best way to avoid overuse injuries is with post-run recovery.
When we run and our foot strikes the ground, we encounter up to 3 times our body weight in ground reaction forces. These ground reaction forces are absorbed and released by the soft tissue (tendons, ligaments) – much like a rubber band stretches and recoils. Injury results when there is an inefficiency in this load / unload pattern.
How can runners ensure proper load / unload of ground reaction forces and therefore avoid injury?
This is where post-run recovery comes into play. Keeping the elasticity in our muscles and tendons requires frequent soft tissue work. I recommend runners do myofascial or trigger point release to the bottom of the foot, the calves, the quads and the glutes.
I prefer myofascial release over stretching as it better addresses the way our muscles, fascia and tendons move together. Myofascial release increases the fluid content in the soft tissue and creates a relaxation effect to the muscles. This directly translates to increased flexibility and tissue elasticity.
Tips for Myofascial Release
Integrating myofascial release into your weekly running routine should not be a costly investment. Standard foam rollers cost about $15 and are available in different densities. If you are new to myofascial release and are rather sensitive, I recommend starting with a less dense foam roller (white). As you get accustomed to the technique, you can increase to a higher density (black).
As you roll through the different muscle groups, certain areas will feel more tender than others. To release the adhesions in the muscle and fascia, alternate holding pressure on the adhesions (30 seconds) with cross friction movements.
After every run, I recommend runners spend at least 15 – 20 minutes myofasically releasing their lower body. As the runner gradually increases their mileage the demands placed on the soft tissue also increase and so will the time required to recover the soft tissue.
Dedicating to a consistent myofasical recovery routine is one of the key steps in keeping the body injury free and moving with a spring in your step. For more great recovery tips and techniques for avoid running-related injury please visit www.ebfafitness.com
About Dr. Emily Splichal
Dr. Emily Splichal is a Podiatrist, Human Movement Specialist and national fitness expert recognized by stiletto-lovers as “Dr. Legs” from her posture and balance fitness workouts Catwalk Confidence® and Stiletto Recovery®. Dr. Emily Splichal attended undergraduate school at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and graduate school at A.T. Still University earning a Master’s in Human Movement. She went on to graduate with a DPM from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Her post-graduate training included podiatric medicine and surgical training at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan as well as Mt Vernon Hospital and Sound Shore Medical Center in Westchester County, NY.
Dr. Emily Splichal is extensively trained in lower extremity biomechanics, sports medicine and movement dysfunction. With over 11 years in the fitness industry, Dr. Emily Splichal has dedicated her medical career towards studying postural alignment and human movement as it relates to foot posture and foot strength. Dr Emily Splichal has appeared as a stiletto foot expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, The Doctors, Dr. Steve Show, CW11 and has been featured in Glamour, Seventeen, Women’s Day, and Elle Magazine. Dr. Emily Splichal has demonstrated how barefoot balance training works to improve posture and enables the ability to walk with strength and confidence. Dr. Emily Splichals workout Catwalk Confidence® was voted by TimeOut NY as Best Workout in 2010.