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The Number One Cause of Injury in Most Runners I See

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Are old injuries holding you back?

More runners are coming into the clinic these days, some returning after years away and others pushing through pain to reach their goals. Whether it’s a faster pace, longer distance, or qualifying for the Boston Marathon, runners are determined to keep going. Lately, I’ve seen many runners whose pain hasn’t been resolved by other healthcare providers.

It’s striking how many of these injuries share the same root cause: old injuries the body is still compensating for. To fully grasp this, you need to understand how the brain coordinates movement. We have an intention to move (e.g., to run), but we don’t consciously choose which muscles we’ll use or how forces distribute throughout our bodies. It’s automatic. 

Think of it this way: as your foot strikes the ground, ideally, your calf muscles absorb 25% of the load, your hamstrings another 25%, your quads 25%, and your glutes and other hip muscles the remaining 25%. Each part does its job, so nothing gets overworked.

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However, old injuries often cause the body to adjust these percentages.

Case Study: Low Back Pain

Consider this patient: Lower back pain on the right side, on and off for years but recently worsening. The pain radiates down the leg, and there’s new weakness under the right kneecap. The goal: improve running times.

This patient has a history of injuries: left knee, left hamstring, left shoulder, lower back, and past knee pain.

My testing revealed:

  • Right Side: minor hamstring and knee tightness, significant nerve pain with quad activation, weak hip muscles, overworked hip flexors leading to IT band strain, glute max offloading work onto the lower back.
  • Left Side: no nerve pain in the quad, just cramping and weakness, weakness in hip muscles.

In this case, the quads were doing only 5% of their job (instead of 25%). This meant the hips had to work overtime, leading to the current pain and re-emerging knee issues.

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The key takeaway? The back pain is a symptom, not the problem itself. While treating the back offers short-term relief, addressing the quad weakness is crucial for preventing the pain from returning or getting worse.

It’s difficult to assess these imbalances yourself, as the body is skilled at compensating. A professional can help isolate specific tissues and identify the true source of your pain.

Don’t wait until a nagging injury turns into a major setback. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just want to feel your best, get a proper assessment. Address those old injuries and ensure your body is firing on all cylinders for pain-free, optimal performance.

Questions? Shoot me an email or setup a free 15 minute discovery call.