Running injuries are often more complex than typical sports-related injuries. As opposed to acute injuries caused by trauma, running injuries tend to be overuse injuries caused by training errors or poor running mechanics. Evaluation of the entire kinetic chain is extremely important in assessing running injuries. For example, a runner with knee pain may have a chronic injury in the knee that is caused by an abnormality of the foot, ankle or hip. If these issues are not properly addressed then treatment may be inappropriate. The first stage of treatment is always to provide for healing of the injury, but the second stage of treatment is equally as important. In the second stage we need to correct the factors that led to the injury in the first place otherwise the problem will return. Evaluating the athlete’s training history, dietary history and footwear are all important factors. A formal assessment of body and running mechanics is also critical to correcting errors.
A video treadmill running evaluation can be used to assess running mechanics. The athlete runs on the treadmill while being videotaped from different angles. Once the videotaping is complete, the therapist is able to review the video with the athlete and evaluate the entirety of body mechanics using special computer software to evaluate cadence, stride length, body position, rotation, foot strike, etc. Once these errors have been identified then corrections can be made through rehabilitation, custom orthotics and return to running training programs. Not only will this prevent re-injury, but it will also improve the athlete’s efficiency.
It is only through a thorough evaluation of all of these factors that we can not only completely heal the injury, but prevent it from returning and help improve the athlete’s performance.
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