Dr. Ginsberg Discusses Chiropractic Care for Runners and Running Performance

With more and more people taking up recreational running in the US, the number of running associated injuries have also increased. Commonly reported cases include: shin splints; patellofermoral pain syndromes; Achilles tendinitis; flat feet; and compartmental syndromes and stress fractures. All these injuries are a result of cumulative stress reactions to soft tissues and bones. While running, the musculoskeletal system may absorb up to 250-300% of the runner’s weight on the heel strike [1,2,3], and this exerts stress on the body.

Chiropractors are generally contracted to help alleviate pain and non-specific symptoms associated with running, usually from the gradual onset of regular stress on the soft tissues and bones. If these symptoms are caught early, they can then be effectively managed and reduced in a short period of time [4]. Chiropractic treatment can help excessive pronation [5], the inward rolling of the hind foot and the midfoot beyond the acceptable parameters of general walking and running; prolonged internal rotation of the internal extremity [6], the inward rotation of the femur, which transmits stress to the pelvic region; and excessive supination [7], and those with very high arches who are very sensitive to stress reactions and fractures. 

While chiropractic treatment can help with pain and injuries, its biggest advantage to runners and athletes is preventive care. Many runners, athletes and non-athletes may ask – why pay for chiropractic treatment when there is no pain to treat? It’s much easier to maintain good health and prevent injury than to treat somebody already in pain. The danger with running injuries is that they are likely to be caused by repetitive stress and alignment problems that take time to develop, and an even longer time for the pain to start. If our bodies were designed with perfect alignment, then we would be able to cope with the regular stress running delivers. However, very few of us do have perfect alignment, and in many cases those with flat feet or high arches are at risk to extra cumulative stress to the body. [8]

In preventive cases, a chiropractor can give a good overall evaluation, teaching the patient how to prevent injuries and maintain good alignment – thereby reducing the chance of injury. For those looking for preventive treatment, your chiropractor can help assess and evaluate your condition by offering scans of your feet, testing for strength imbalances and an analysis of your posture. In addition, the chiropractor can also suggest a program suited to your needs to prevent injury in the future.

[1] Lutter LD. Foot-related knee problems in the long-distance runner Foot &Ankle 1980; 1:112-116.

[2] Robbin SF, Hanna AM. Running-related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987; 19.148-156.

[3] Cavanaugh PR, LaFortune.MA. Ground reaction forced in distance running. Biomech 1980; 13:397-406.

[4] Griffith., HJ et aZ Magnetic resonance spectrum of stress injury to bone and ib clinical relevance. (in press) Presented at Annual Symposium of Am Coll Chiro Radiol, 1992.

[5] Michaud TC. Recurrent lower tibial stress fracture in a long-distance runner. Chino Sports Med 1988; 2(3):78-87. 18. Cavanagh PA The shoe ground interface in running. Symposium on the foot and leg in running sports, n.d.

[6] Schafer RC. Clinical Biomechanics Musculoskeletal Actions and Reactions. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1983. 21. Greenawalt MH. Spinal Pelvic Stabilization (4th ed.). Roanoke: Foot Levelers, Inc., 1990.

[7] Subotnick SI. Sports Medicine of the Lower Extremity. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1989:164.

[8] http://www.campanellahealthcenter.com/uncategorized/why-chiropractic-care-is-important-for-runners/ accessed September 2011