Running is a sport that people respond to rather like they do to marmite. They love it or hate it. Very few tend to ambivalently sit in-between. When you are a runner, you like getting out there, mostly rain or shine, taking it easy or pushing yourself hard. Some just like to head out and use it as an opportunity to de-stress and exercise, others want to see how hard or fast they can push themselves. What tends to unite any type of runner is that when an injury strikes, you want it fixed, and as soon as possible with as little interruption to your running.
Injuries sustained from running can be fairly broad, from shin splints and minor strains and pulls, to back pain or even headaches and neck pain. The reason why there are so many different injuries that can occur are because running is an impact sport and uses your whole body in order to move effectively, which is also why it’s fantastic exercise and addictive to those it captures.
Treatment for running injuries can vary and certainly there are many options across the manual therapies that cater for runners. One of the perhaps lesser considered options is to go and see an Osteopath who works with sports and exercise. The reason why is that with a lot of running injuries it is important to combine a mix of hands on physical treatment to address the issue and also then prescribe a suitable exercise and rehabilitation programme, which is offered by physiotherapists, sports therapists and osteopaths, but where osteopathy can excel is by considering in conjunction with the standard approach to look a wider at the individual as a whole. A gait analysis is a really useful tool, but it purely looks at how a runner lands and their lower leg movement, pelvic and lumbar (lower back) movement should also be taken into account, expensive running shoes can help with supporting the feet but if the imbalance is coming from higher up, will make little impact on the issue. Equally in order to ensure that the runner is moving effectively the movement of the whole spine should be taken into account, and so the middle and upper back should be viewed and treated as well if appropriate.
When working with runners I have found the most effective results have been obtained when we can keep the runner moving, whether that be by altering the training regime that they have been doing, or by looking at alternative ways to move until we can restore them to running. Definitely there is a preference to ensure that they keep exercising and moving whilst resting and rehabilitating the injury, as full rest can be frustrating and difficult to return from. The most important thing I would say though is make sure you get those injuries checked out, often simply running through the pain is not going to fix the problem. So if you love running then make sure you take care of the machine that enables you to do it.