Category Archives for Injury

Blame the Runner


I just added a new Article of Interest to the page. From Outside Magazine, the author discusses something that I’ve seen so many times. He does not say it outright, but it’s there.

Runners simply don’t take responsibility for their poor choices. 

They blame something extrinsic when they themselves are the cause.

Blame the Runner: Shoes Don’t Cause Injuries | Devon Jackson at Outside | “Up to 90 percent of running injuries could be classified as training errors, says Langer. One’s body mass index, history of injury, amount of pronation, too little rest, too much high-intensity running (hills, speed workouts), not enough cross training, abrupt changes in training volume, etc.”

Choose the Right Running Shoe | Mackenzie Lobby at Competitor | “Langer points out that 60–80 percent of running injuries are due to training errors, not footwear. “I usually tell my patients that in terms of running injuries, shoes are like quarterbacks: They get too much credit when things are good and too much blame when things are bad.””

Example of a runner not taking responsibility for their poor training choices in shoes they were not ready for.

I mean, I get it.

People like to place blame elsewhere.

But it’s often not the case.


Poor form.
Weak hips, glutes, etc
Bad training choices
Too much volume, intensity,
Not enough rest, easy running
No transition time to training changes (footwear, terrain, volume, etc)
You’re overweight
The warning signs were ignored and trained through

These cause injury.

This is also were a coach comes into play. One of my athletes was practically a chronically injured runner when I was first getting to know him. I was honestly a little hesitant to take him on. However with myself working with him he cut about 10 minutes off his marathon time with a 3:04 Boston Qualification and just ran his first sub 18 minute 5k, completely injury free for the entire marathon training cycle.

“Running is a skill and how one runs matters more than what is on one’s feet,” declares Harvard University paleoanthropologist Dan Lieberman, the popularize of minimalist running also known as the Barefoot Runner. “Natural selection is a much better engineer than any shoe designer. So my null hypothesis is that less shoe is better until proven otherwise.”

I believe the best shoe for most people is a neutral option that allows the foot to move and the body to position naturally. Cushioning and protection are great, but the body must be able to function well.

Let’s break down some of the injury causes mentioned above:

Poor Form
A low cadence, high vertical movement, overstriding, landing with a straight knee, bent over posture. These are visually obvious poor form characteristics than can cause issues. Just because we were “born to run” does not mean everyone can do it well.

Weak Muscles
I recall a study that found a direct correlation to weak glutes and Illiotibial Tract Friction Syndrome. Hips are also an often overlooked muscle group.

Bad Training Choices
Such as running too much volume, speed work, not recovering properly, not slow enough transitioning to any new change in training, not doing ancillary work.

One of the reasons it’s believed that runners actually have lower incidence of arthreitis in old age is because they tend to weigh less than their inactive counterparts.

Ignored Warning Signs
Numerous times in the past I’ve felt a little injury coming on and was able to avoid injury by changing my training. For example, I jumped into trail running a bit too quickly moved to the Black Hills National Forest a few years back, and my ankles really felt it. Instead of ignoring this or pushing through it, I simply stayed on less technical trails and the road a bit more. The ankles were then able to “catch up” and I slowly moved back to the rocky trails.

Another example was last winter when I moved to the treadmill a bit too quickly. My hamstrings really felt it, I believe it was a combo of being on the treadmill as well as the treadmill’s incline (I now live on a very very flat part of South Dakota). I was able to avoid taking any time off from running, again, due to being mindful of my body and noticing what was happening. I eased back my volume a bit, avoided the treadmill incline, and was able to heel up within a few weeks and be back to full training. No problems.

Below if an example of the runner blaming the shoes and not taking responsibility

“but (they) caused me some nasty injuries”

“I think it was a more the too much too fast”

How I Managed my Sciatica

The most persistent injury I’ve experienced was a true pain in the butt.

If you’re familiar with piriformis, you know I’m not being cheeky. It’s literally a pain in the butt.

Here’s how I managed to take control of this issue.

What is it?

Piriformis Syndrome is when the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle instead of around it, and is compressed (agitated) by the muscle.

This discomfort will often be felt in the glutes of high hamstring. Symptoms include a pain that’s typically only on one side of the body. They can run from the lower back all the way down the leg. For me it was a high hamstring slightly pins-&-needles discomfort.

The sciatic nerve begins at the base of the spine and travels down the leg before branching out and can cause tingling, numbness, or pain all throughout this area.

When did I experience it?

In my case, piriformis pain would show itself during two instances

  1. During longer (hour plus) car drives without cruise control, such as curvy rmountain roads. The constant pushing and releasing on the gas pedal really aggravated the nerve.
  2. During the final bit of a long hard run.

How did I solve mine?

Two methods were used, and both involve a little purple ball.

The first is that I would place a small tennis ball sized ball under my high hammy when driving or sitting for a long time.

Second, I would religiously perform the below exercise 1-2 times a day.

Where am I now?

Now, I can’t even remember the last time I experienced this discomfort during a run.

I still have to sit on my little purple ball if I know I’m driving without cruise control for an extended period of time. There are a couple known chairs at local coffee shops that I either avoid or have to use the ball (which I keep in my bag) because for some reason they put me in a position that agitates my sciatic nerve.

Currently I don’t suppose I would consider myself “cured” because I do experience it very rarely, however I’d consider myself over this issue, since I cannot remember the last time I felt this pain!

More Reading:

How to Get a Deep Piriformis Stretch | Carly Fraser | “It is important to note, too, that over-stretching can actually make the condition worse. Light, gentle stretching is best. “No pain, no gain” does NOT apply here. I over-stretched my piriformis and that’s what made it inflamed for 1-2 years (because I was still doing yoga daily, and over-doing it in stretches).”

Peroneal Tendonitis

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Often not related to biomechanics, shoe type, or muscle weakness. This can simply be an overuse injury related to irritation when the tendon runs through the sheath and/or past the ankle.

With overuse injuries the best recovery is often to simply allow for rest. This does not mean a full stop with running has to occur, but a decrease of volume can be enough to let the pain dissipate. Icing and self massage can also help.

Shoe Surgery

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Experiencing irritation of the achilles tendon by the rubbing of a high and stiff heel tab is an unfortunate and easily preventable injury.

I’m not talking about a simple blister here, but actual irritation of the tendon.

Achilles tendonitis can hopefully become a thing of the past with the below easy fix, but be warned it may change the sizing of the shoe.

I’ve experienced similar irritation from the elastic band that was used on the original Vibram Fivefinger, that went over the top of the foot. The band pressing down on the tendons simply created a pressure point for irritation,  extensor tendonitis in that case.

As for the remedy, 5 time world record holder Gordon Pirie recommends:

The quickest remedy to this problem is to take a knife to the curved piece of shoe material and cut it off, so that the top of the shoe
heel is level with the rest of the upper, and below the level of the soft tissue of the Achilles tendon. The top of the shoe heel must not be higher than the bony heel. Runners who come to me limping with very sore Achilles tendons are able to run away with their
pain relieved after this surgery is performed on the shoe (with the shoe removed, of course). This “operation” will make the shoe about half a size larger than it was originally, so bear this in mind when purchasing shoes.