I returned from a Disney vacation with my family last week. While there, I saw all the runners who had just finished the marathon. Several of them had compression socks and I was inspired to write today’s blog.
In 2009, I wrote a blog post on soleus strains, the Anatomy of a Soleus Injury. It is a widely read post about a commonly misdiagnosed issue and brings many inquiries as to how to solve this condition that plagues runners. One question I often get is will compression socks help? Over the past few years, I have seen a proliferation in the use of compression socks in the recreational running community.
But what exactly do these garments do? Some of the proposed benefits are:
What does science have to say about compression garments. I performed a literature search for relevant articles pertaining primarily to runners and endurance activity. Below are some links to recent research abstracts:
In summary, much of the research we have no seems to tell us the following things:
There is no conclusive evidence that these garments will prevent muscle strains, but research does indicate that perceived exertion is lower and the psychological impact of wearing the garment may aid runners. I have not tried these myself, but some of my clients swear by them. The idea of supporting/compressing soft tissue is certainly not new and many find some comfort in it. We need more studies specific to injured populations to accurately evaluate the impact on those recovering from gastroc/soleus strains.
With that said, I am in favor of any modality that may allow athletes to train and compete with more confidence and less perceived exertion even if there is no direct measurable performance gain. While I will stop short of endorsing these compression socks, I do see some potential benefits for those coming back from an injury in terms of recovery that warrant some consideration until they resume their prior levels of activity pain free. For runners suffering from muscle injuries, utilizing soft tissue mobilization, stretching, strengthening, and proper running progression is still a an absolute must.
It has been a while since my last post. To be honest, I have been busy with preparing/presenting my live seminar last week and webinars, as well as fulfilling my writing obligations and clinical role. So, I have been taking a “break” from blogging and recharging the battery so to speak.
Now I am getting back to it. The great thing about presenting though is that I am consistently reading and reviewing the latest research on topics related to my presentations and closely examine my rehab and exercise philosophy. In my clinic, I treat many runners for knee pain.
The average profile is an experienced runner b/w the ages of 25 and 50 who logs 20 - 35 miles per week and routinely competes in half marathons or some sort of triathlons.
Common injuries include IT band problems versus lateral meniscus tears versus patellofemoral pain. Often, I uncover the following things related to kinetic chain deficiencies:
Many currently debate the efficacy of foam rolling. Is it worthwhile? Some say yes, while others say no.
Let me start off by saying I have the privilege to assess and treat many avid runners on a weekly basis. Some of them are triathletes and others just dedicated runners. While the age and experience level varies, I see more female runners in all.
Recently, a woman in her mid thirties came in for PT after being referred by a physician’s assistant (PA) with a working diagnosis of hip flexor tendinitis. She had developed pain running in the past few weeks. It was now at a level preventing her from running despite using NSAIDS to reduce inflammation.
Specifically, she complained of increased pain with figure 4 sitting, difficulty and pain getting up from a chair, and increased pain with running. Her pain level at the eval was 2/10 but went as high as 9/10 with running. Lots of things can cause pain in the hip joint.
Summary of clinical findings:
I have been a bit behind on blogging as of late. I try to aim for one per week, but I also strive to deliver sound and relevant content. Additionally, I do not seek outside contributors so finding time to write can be tricky with work and family life too. So, forgive me for any apparent inconsistency in posting. Just know that I will always try to provide valuable content. Today’s post centers around an article in the July 2012 edition of AJSM.
My work at the Athletic Performance Center has provided me an increased opportunity to work with FAI and athletic hip injuries. This is an area of evolution and growth in our field, so I find it particularly interesting to see rationale and thought processes centering around the timing, contribution and selection of hip exercises for active patients/athletes.
This article comes from the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, CO. The purpose of the study was to measure the highest activation of the piriformis and pectineus muscle during various exercises. The hypothesis was that highest pectineus activation would occur with hip flexion and moderate activity with internal rotation, whereas the highest activation with the piriformis would be with external rotation and/or abduction.
Methods: 10 healthy volunteers completed the following 13 exercises:
All of these exercises have been reported to be used in hip rehab following arthroscopy or recovery from injury. The exercises were executed slowly and methodically with a metronome to reduce EMG amplitude variations.
So, a very common issue I see in runners is iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome. In a nutshell, it involves excessive rubbing or friction of the ITB along the greater trochanter or lateral femoral epicondyle. It is more common along the lower leg just above the knee and typically worsens with increasing mileage or stairs.
The ITB is essential for stabilizing the knee during running. Several factors may contribute to increased risk for this problem:
Related information on this topic include a 2010 study published in JOSPT on competitive female runners with ITB syndrome:
Common signs and symptoms include stinging or nagging lateral knee pain that worsens with continued running. Hills and stairs may further aggravate symptoms. Some runners even note a “locking up” sensation that forces them to stop running altogether. How do I treat this?