Are weak hips and lower leg injuries related? Dr. C weighs in on a Runners World article.
Why do runners and other athletes have shin, knee, ankle problems and stress fractures? A recent Runners World post suggests that 1960s Australian great Ron Clarke’s assertion of too strong a core and hip flexors that are too weak will lead to injuries in the lower leg. A while back, an orthopedist coined the term “Dead Butt Syndrome” which caused a swell of frustrated runners to wonder if they had that problem.
Unfortunately, we are a series of connected parts that must work together, rather than different areas doing different things to make up the whole. In other words, a strong core (not just the abdominals) will help improve your gait and your power, but it is not the whole story, just a part of it. Part of the story has to do with asymmetry and our compensation to it and the other part has to do with training a torqued core. If you read the link to our article on “dead Butt”, it can help you understand why lower leg injuries occur. The other problem is that you cannot train a torqued or distorted core, no matter how hard you try. Perhaps this is why many runners after exploring many solutions offered by professionals who claim to treat running injuries do not have a long term record of success.
To succeed in training the core properly, we need symmetry, a better running style and then a core that is retrained. Read this article to understand this in detail (Experiencing athletic injuries… Having muscle pulls… What gives?). You will also find it quite helpful to read the book Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain to better understand the mechanisms that make most people including most runners hurt.
Other things proven to help are
1. Foot orthotics, off the shelf or custom, what you don’t know can hurt you (the owner of a local running store found this out the other day when I recommended he try a good off the shelf orthotic in his shoes instead of his dysfunctional custom pair; he noticed a nice difference.
2. Foam rolling, check out our foam roller video for some helpful tips. Also, tight hip capsules will cause the dead butt or weak hip flexors to occur. You can also see our hip capsule stretches here. While these are both helpful, you may find that having yourself professionally evaluated can be enlightening since we can help you figure out what your needs are to get back to where you need to be. A sports certified chiropractor may have all the tools you need to be properly evaluated and treated.
3. Doing core exercises prior to a run rather than stretching, which is now the preferred method of pre run preparation.
Read the Runners World article here
Weak Hips, Lower Leg Injuries Appear Linked
Hip flexor strength is one key element.
Here’s more evidence supporting 1960s Australian great Ron Clarke’s assertion that a runner can’t be too strong through the midsection: Runners with lower-leg injuries had weaker hip flexors than other runners, according to a review of research on how hip characteristics might affect lower-leg injuries.
Research reviews are what their names suggest, an examination of previous research on a topic. They can be valuable summations of years of work.
For the hips/lower-leg injuries review, Australian researchers gathered as many studies as they could find on hip abnormality and lower-leg injuries in athletes. Of the studies they reviewed that were runner-specific, they reported two key findings.
First, they wrote, “Hip flexors and hip abductors strength on the injured side hip was significantly weaker in runners suffering lower-limb running injury when compared to the non-injured side.”
Read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain available through Amazon.com and other booksellers