Over used injuries in high velocity running sports

Blog by: Kaushik Talukdar.

Edited by: Suryakant Tripathi

Introduction -The common overused injuries such as hamstring and quadricep strains seen in high velocity running sports have been on the rise even with the recent advancement in technology and functional anatomy. The primary cause of such injuries can be debatable, however two distinct factors that may be contributing towards these injuries are synergist dominance and the high volume of low intensity running based work prescribed in training cycles.

Synergist dominance – Renowned physical therapist Shirley Sahrmann explained, when the primary muscle group (specific to a task) is not performing at optimal capacity then the synergist group tends to pick up the slack for e.g. if the gluteal group that has a strong influence on the pelvis do not primarily extend the hips and control the trunk during running then it’s synergist (hamstring group) tends to do the job. Therefore, leaving the hamstring group with two roles: a) extend the hips and b) avoid knee hyperextension (deceleration). The anterior chain operates in a similar fashion i.e. if the quadricep group tends to be the dominant hip flexors in running with the primary hip flexors such as psoas and illiacus not contributing optimally, it may lead to quadricep strain over a period of time. Psoas and illiacus are the only two hip flexors among the five hip flexors that have the mechanical advantage of flexing the hips past 90 degrees and provide trunk stability due to their attachments in the spine (lumbar) and pelvis respectively. This does not mean that we train these muscles in isolation but rather educate athletes and/ or create an environment where the athletes are able to utilise these patterns without depending excessively on the synergists.

Practical Application in prescribing low intensity work – Low intensity long runs (jogging) eliminates full capacity hip flexion and extension, making athletes more prone to utilise their synergists. Human brain is smart to get a job done even under fatigue conditions, however it can alter mechanics if it senses a threat to the system. Therefore, reducing the volume of these work can help athletes train the patterns without much dominance from the synergists. Low intensity work is important to develop cardiac output but the mode can be different for high velocity running based athletes. Performing a whole lot of correctives and activation work for gluteals and psoas will not work, if we do not manipulate the training stimulus, reinforce good motor learning and spend some time practising mindful running with recovery. Some of the alternatives to low intensity long work for high velocity running athletes can be swimming, incline walks and mobility circuits.

Kaushik Talukdar (Strength and Conditioning Manager)

Masters in Sport and Exercise Science.

Currently pursuing a PhD in Sport science and psychology)

Australian Strength and Conditioning Accreditation level -2

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