Dan Pfaff, arguably one of the greatest track and field coaches of our time, eloquently uses an analogy to describe his approach to treating the cause of pain in his athletes.
“One of the analogies I use to describe my approach to sports medicine is that joints are pulleys; connective tissue (muscle, tendons, ligaments) are ropes; and this pulley system is driven by a computer. To achieve high performance you have to do correct therapy to rehab and prehab the ropes so they do not fray. You have to ensure the pulleys are clean so that everything can slide efficiently and then you have to clean up any viruses in the computer program to remove guarding or dysfunctional movement patterns. If you get away from that trinity you are doomed to failure.”
Plantar fasciitis, stress reactions, achilles tendinopathy, anterior knee pain, ITB syndrome, low back pain, are great examples of types of pathology that runners commonly deal with. Runners, it is important to understand that those areas of pain are symptoms. Nothing ever happens in isolation during human locomotion, therefore, find the dysfunctional link(s) in the chain and treat the cause of your pain. Those causes vary rarely occur at the actual site of your pain/pathology.
Running is a complex pattern of movements that continually needs addressing to ensure optimal efficency. If you are only treating the site of pain your can guarantee, sooner than later, you will be on the sideline always looking for relief. Healing from injury and running injury free is a process, learn from it, be proactive, and do not look for the quick fixes.
Jeff Moreno, DPT, OCS
Precision Running Clinic