In our orthopedic surgery practice at Rush, we see a lot of very active adults who try to keep a very balanced, healthy lifestyle, as well as people who like to work out on occasion. And then there are other people who have more of a commitment to working out and athletics. Matt Aaronson is one of those guys.
Matt got into marathon running, biking, swimming and competing in triathlons. But while he was training for the Boston Marathon, Matt began to experience hip pain. The location of Matt’s pain — in the hip and groin area — can make activities such as running and swimming very painful. It can even be painful in your daily life, for instance when you’re sitting for long periods, putting on your clothes or shoes, or climbing stairs.
Conservative therapies for the pain, such as anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and activity modification, had not worked for Matt. He was at the point where surgery was his best option.
I had never been physically active prior to 2010. In fact, at one point I weighed more than 200 pounds. But with three kids at home, I needed to make some serious changes in my lifestyle and get healthy for myself and my family.
So I started to run for fitness. I was fortunate and began losing a lot of weight. And as I lost weight, I became a faster runner. I signed up for some races and noticed that I was commonly in the top 10 or even in the top three. I got into triathlons to try something different and realized my results were excellent. I even qualified for the World Championships in 2011, in my first half Ironman.
I ran my first marathon in 2013 in under three hours, during which I qualified for the Boston Marathon. However, while I was training for the Boston Marathon my hip started really bothering me. I thought I would be fine if I just ran a little bit less. Initially for my training I was up to 60 miles a week. But once I injured my hip, I went back down to less than 30 miles a week, even in the mid-20s per week. But the pain still got worse and worse.
I started running for the Chicago Half Marathon and started to have anterior knee pain and instability. I also started to have lots of grinding in both knees. Will I need time to rest? Would a knee brace help?
Joshua Blomgren, DO:Anterior knee pain is a common complaint in runners. Very commonly the patellofemoral, or “knee cap” joint, is the culprit. The knee cap glides in a groove in the thigh bone with walking, running and activity. There is a complex interplay of leg alignment and muscular activity that contribute to the activity of the joint. If the joint is slightly out of alignment it can become painful. A lot of runners will experience it as they progress in their training. This is the likely cause, considering the pain and grinding sensation. There are some braces that can help improve the “knee cap” alignment, but most often a physical therapy program to strengthen the quadriceps and gluteus medius muscle can help alleviate your pain and help you to continue your training.
How important is post-run stretching in preventing injury? Any guidance on ideal length of time to spend stretching post-run?
Blomgren: Stretching has been shown in multiple studies to aid in injury prevention. There are two types of stretching — static and dynamic. Static is the more commonly known type as this is the commonly thought of “reach, stretch and hold.” Dynamic stretching is stretching the muscles as you are using them. Dynamic stretching has been shown to be most beneficial as part of the warm-up, and static stretching is done as part of a cool-down. Make sure to focus on the major muscle groups of the legs.
Join Joshua Blomgren, DO, for tips on running injury prevention and treatment during an online chat from noon to 1 p.m. on July 25. Visit our Rush Facebook page to sign up for a reminder and view the chat.
By Joshua Blomgren, DO
As the temperatures rise in Chicago, I also see a rise in the number of running injuries that present to my office. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon hosts over 40,000 runners, many from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, for the annual event that takes place in October.
Many runners see a large increase in their mileage as they begin to progress in their training programs, and most training plans for an October marathon will have the runners begin to progress to 10 miles and beyond around this time of year. It’s not uncommon for a patient to say things such as, “I did my long run this weekend and …” or “I did 10 miles last weekend, and this is the farthest I have ever run.” Often these long runs are met with aches and pain as the runners push toward their goal of completing 26.2 miles.