By Calvin Crawford – CC’s Staff
Spring is here! Avoid the early season pains for late season gains!
With a rough winter in the rearview mirror and the ice FINALLY melted off the sidewalks, running season is here! If you have driven around lately, it’s as if the runners have been waiting in the starting blocks at their front door for this day. With running being the single most commonly preferred method of exercise, you know at least one person who likes to run. BUT, do you know a runner that hasn’t had or currently isn’t in some sort of pain?
Us physical therapists humorously call this time of the year “plantar fasciitis season,” and already we are seeing it hold true yet again with our current patient caseloads. But why is that? Unfortunately, living up here in the frozen tundra of lovely ND forces us indoors after a busy, activity-filled summer and fall. It isn’t entirely our fault that consistent temps of -10 degrees, record snowfall, and piercing winds keep up from saying “hey, let’s go for a jog!”
With the dramatic shift in activity level, our bodies and muscles undergo a pretty significant change as well (not only because of the holiday baked goods); they get used to not being pushed, exercised, or naturally stretched with the activity of being outside. Subsequently, our bodies become stiff, physiologically shorten, and decrease our range of motion in our joints. Now, fast forward to today after 3+ months of this and let’s start running again!! Or wait…?
It seems so simple – and it really is. You MUST get your body used to the increased activity level or it is very likely you can end up with some sort of pain or injury. It’s no different than lifting light prior to bench pressing your maximum or getting a good warm-up in before sprinting the 100-meter dash. This all seems so easy, and yet some shocking statistics show otherwise: 10% of the Americans will have plantar fasciitis at some point in their lives, 12% of running injuries are due to IT band issues, and 65% of ALL runners will have pain in any given year. A runner will sustain one injury for every 100 hours of training. An average runner will miss 5-10% of workouts due to injury each year. These injuries also include Achilles tendonitis, “runner’s knee”, shin splints, low back pain, hip pain, and many more.
What do most of these injuries have in common? They can be avoided. Yes, I’m saying that you could completely avoid the pain without medications or quitting running. Activity specific stretching, foam rolling, thorough warm-ups, and perhaps physical therapy are essential to early season training. The key is addressing these issues BEFORE you have pain. A simple Google search or even a call to the office can help give you the info you’re looking for, whether you seek simple tips or in-depth detail. If it is too late to prevent and you are already trying to train through the pain, we can help you there, too. We have a relationship with our patients here that is bittersweet – as we would much rather give you a honk on the drive by as you are running by Tom O’Leary than force you to come to an appointment twice a week every week to maintain your pain free life.
Now, in this wonderfully active community we live in, many people maintain their lifestyle on the treadmill, at the gym, or at home. Technology has come so far that the impact on your body from a treadmill is just a fraction of what the impact of an asphalt, gravel, or concrete sidewalk would be. So unfortunately, the rules still apply to you guys too (although I bet you kept off the holiday cookies better than I did). I absolutely love working with all runners. Whether you are training for an ultra-marathon, trying to knock out your first 5K, or just working on running to the mailbox, I’m here to help. Listen to your body, this spring: if you feel tight, you most likely are. Most importantly, if you start to get pain, don’t try to run away from it, because it will always catch up to you. I’m happy to help you get through your pain and prevent further injury from occurring. North Dakota running season is very short and before you know it, it will be snowing again. Let’s not miss it due to something that can be prevented!
Post Author: Calvin Crawford
Born and raised in Devils Lake, ND and found my love for Physical Therapy from my own injuries when I was just an 8th grader. I followed my dream to college at the University of North Dakota where my undergraduate curriculum emphasized sports medicine and exercise science. In 2015 I received my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from UND and I was off on the job hunt. I have wanted to live and work in Bismarck my entire life as it has everything I need to meet my passion for the outdoors including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and being on the water during the summer. My job hunt led me to meet April and Jenny here at CC’s and they made my decision very easy. I have a passion for exercise and wellness and getting people back to an active lifestyle. I have worked with all levels of athletes and sports from 6th grade all the way to MLB pitchers in Phoenix during spring training. I am also certified in functional dry needling which has become a huge part of getting my patients back to their optimal level of performance faster than ever. My specializations also include surgical or non-surgical orthopedic rehab, vertigo, and myofascial trigger point release.