Every year patients come into the clinic seeking resolve from hip, knee, or ankle pain when they run. In a basic history intake, the question “How much do you stretch?” is often replied with a shoulder shrug and “I don’t have time”, “a little” or “I foam roll” becomes the answer. Or I find that patients “doing the stretches and rolling” with no results. If you can relate, this article is for you.
Let’s teach you how to assess your mobility/flexibility on your own so you know the areas to work on. If you need help or would like a professional assessment then give our office a call.
THE WHY BEHIND THE WHAT
Your body is brilliantly designed to have mobile joints and stable joints. The ankle is mobile, knee is stable, hip is mobile, and pelvis/lower back is stable. The body, when injured will switch, or compensate by altering this pattern, resulting in injury.
Here is a simple assessment that will allow you to determine any deficiencies.
Put your feet shoulder width apart and squat as low as possible. The requirements for a “pass” grade is this: Head up, chest up, back straight in neutral position, knees outside of the hips, full knee bend, and heels have to stay on the ground. Give this a try, below is a picture. Many people cannot get into this low position.
Focusing on the following three major areas will allow for a proactive and injury free running season: POOR ANKLE MOBILITY preventing your body to get into a full depth squat. If your heel comes off the ground to get this low during the squat, this is you. Focused ankle mobility will help prevent calf issues, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. Stretch the calves and the tibialis (anterior) muscles of the lower leg to allow for proper “spring”
in your step. POOR HIP MOBILITY also will prevent the low squat. This is common in desk workers. If you feel a pinch, often times your hip flexors are getting compressed. When these muscles are too tense your hip is not able to freely move. Compensation can result in hip impingement, iliotibial band syndrome and knee pain. Focus on hip opening stretches and hip extension stretches. HAMSTRING TENSION, LOWER BACK TENSION, AND WEAK GLUTEAL MUSCULATURE If your back rounds for you to get in this position your hamstrings may be overactive and playing a “tug of war” with the lower back resulting in a tension in both. For those chronic hamstring injuries this can be the cause. Also, if you can get into the deep squat but are unable to keep your back upright, weak glutes may be preventing stability in that region.
Dr. Vance at HealthSource of Portland West is available for full assessments. Call 207-780-1070 or email Dr. Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org
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