It is common knowledge that our muscles are the prime movers that get us to run, jump, squat and walk from one place to the next. These muscles are connected to tendons that help to transmit force from their connected muscle to the bone that needs to move. Tendinitis or Tendinopathy is a frequent condition that runners experience, particularly those that are increasing mileage, intensity or are new to running. Common sites for tendon irritation include the tendons of Hip Flexors, Gluteus Medius/Minimus as well as the Hamstring muscles. Of course, every muscle has its tendinous attachment, but runners are especially prone to these tendon injuries of the hip as well as those of the knee and ankle. Pain/inflammation may initially occur through a single run or many. When tendons weaken, they may develop a more chronic condition of tendinopathy which may not “just go away” with rest. Either way, tendons can be a pain in the butt!
Like most injuries, the cause of tendon pain is usually moving in a certain way or to an amount that exceeds the body’s ability to dissipate the stresses imposed on it. For some, this may be the start of track or speed work. For others, tendons are irritated by very little stress, perhaps starting a “couch to 5k” plan. It is not uncommon for tendon pathology to develop from a gradual weakening of a muscle group and subtle positions that stress it… even crossing legs and laying on your side!
It’s easy to get a tendon to talk back, but quieting it down can be a challenge. Most patients/runners will instinctively attempt to stretch away the pain. This usually leads to short-term relief if any. Additionally, stretching may be counterproductive as the compressive (or “pinching”) tendon loading with a stretch may have been the same negative stress that resulted in injury in the first place. Often the answer is to load the muscle and tendon unit to better tolerate individual goals. An individualized approach taking into account activity habits, muscle strength and weaknesses, and training mechanics is necessary to improve pain and keep it from returning.
Seeking out help from a physical therapist for your new or nagging tendon issues is a great way to limit the time sidelined by such issues and get your butt back out there! Here at Up and Running PT, we see this all the time and get great results with our clients who are suffering from tendon issues. We’re happy to help, and only a call or website form away!
This blog was written by our very own running and rehab specialist, Dr. Joey Przybyla.