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Have a Running Injury? Your Core is Probably to Blame

Publish Date: Thu, August 03, 2017 - 10:44:00


by Todd Kersten, PT/OCS

As a life-long runner and physical therapist, I’ve seen just about every running injury there is. But whether you’re suffering from hip, knee, foot or low back pain, chances are the cause isn’t your aching joints. It’s your core.

Research has shown treating injuries distally without addressing the true issue, a weak core, does not provide long lasting benefits and the risk of re-injury is higher.

That’s because running isn’t just about your legs. It takes a tremendous amount of core strength to maintain proper mechanics. When the core is weak, the mechanics break down when you get tired and injuries happen.

When I treat runners with chronic pain at Rock Valley Physical Therapy, I always start by assessing their mechanics, fixing any form issues and then work on core strengthening exercises. That doesn’t necessarily mean doing endless crunches. Planks are a great exercise that lends itself to strengthening the hip, leg and core, all of which promote good mechanics and running injury free.

I also work with runners on eccentric training, or the lowering phase of an exercise. Many athletes tend to focus on the raising or lifting phase when incorporating strength training into their routine. But it actually takes more control and strength to slowly lower and lengthen the muscle. For example, to get the full benefits of a calf raise, you should slowly lower your heels back to the ground.

While strengthening your core and focusing on eccentric training will reduce your risk of injury, it is important to know when it is time to see a professional. I’ve been a physical therapist for 22 years and a runner for 27. I’ll be the first to tell you that nobody runs without symptoms. But it’s time to see a physical therapist if the pain gets worse as you run, gets worse after you stop or comes in sharp sensations. 

Todd Kersten is located in our Five Points - Davenport, IA office.  To make an appointment with Todd, please call our office at 563-324-2263.

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