As the Fox Cities Marathon draws near, your training program intensity is beginning to peak. Longer training runs may cause overuse injuries from cumulative stress on your lower leg tissues. Overuse injuries that are typical in the lower leg include hip strain, IT band syndrome, inner and outer meniscus (cushion between the knees) swelling, inner knee ligament soreness, kneecap tracking problems, soft tissue pain and strain on the front or side of the shin bone, foot and inner arch pain, Achilles tendon strain, and plantar fascia inflammation, pain, and thickening. A common breakdown in alignment of the lower leg due to weakness in specific muscles leads to many of the overuse injuries indicated above.
A good test to see if one’s lower leg alignment is normal is to perform a single leg squat in front of a full-length mirror. If your hips are not level or if your knee caves inward of your second toe, then your muscles are probably not maintaining proper alignment. This may suggest your outer hip stabilizing muscles are weak or fatigued. If you see your foot arch falling during a single leg squat, then your front shin muscles are likely weak or fatigued. Another common finding is that your knee may extend forward beyond your toes, which commonly suggests weakness and tightness in the posterior gluteal region.
See the following YouTube links for exercises to counteract these muscle weaknesses, improve your lower leg stability and alignment, and to prevent and stay injury free. Try to perform the exercises below for 2-3 sets, 10 repetitions per set, 3-4 times per week for a minimum of 12 weeks . Good luck everyone as you train and race this fall!
About the author of this article:
Dr. Nathan Zachor, DC is a chiropractic provider at Schubbe Resch Chiropractic and Physical Therapy in Appleton. He is board certified in both functional rehabilitation and chiropractic. Dr. Zachor is certified in multiple soft tissue techniques to treat athletic injuries including Active Release Technique (ART), Graston Technique (GT), Kinesiotaping Technique (CKTP), and Cold Laser Therapy. He may be reached at [email protected] or 920-738-0200 for any additional questions or concerns you may have related to the content of the above article.