Nebraska Medicine: Reduce Running Injuries – Training the Core

This is a guest blog post written by Jason Roberts, Physical Therapist at Nebraska Medicine Sports Medicine Program. You can find more information about Nebraska Medicine here.

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Injuries due to running are a common source of sports injuries our team sees through the Nebraska Medicine Sports Medicine Program. Many runners overlook the importance of training the core. Core training can not only help with injury prevention, but can improve running performance.

When we evaluate injuries among runners, we often see runners with weak hips, especially involving the gluteus maximus (main extensor muscle of the hip) and the gluteus medius (one of three gluteal muscles located on the outer surface of the pelvis). While these muscles perform multiple functions, one of their big jobs is to stabilize the pelvis and leg during the stance phase of gait. Weakness and poor control of these muscles can cause the hip to drop and the knee to collapse inward. This often leads to injuries like iliotibial band and patellofemoral pain syndromes. Iliotibial band syndrome causes pain on the outside of the knee caused by friction as the tendon rubs over the bone. Patellofemoral pain syndrome causes pain in the front of the knee.

Improving the strength of these hip muscles can reduce the risk for injury. Unfortunately, it will not completely prevent injury solely on its own.

Two simple tests that can be performed to measure your strength are the single leg squat test and the side plank. On average, a runner should be able to complete 10 single leg squats to 70 degrees of knee flexion with good hip and knee control. The side plank should be held for 90 seconds for men and one minute for women. If you cannot perform these tests, you may have an increased risk for injury and should consider incorporating strengthening exercises into your normal routine. If you fail the tests because of pain in your back, hip, knee or ankle, our sports medicine physicians and/or our physical therapist can assist you in resolving your pain. 

We recommend runners perform a strengthening exercise program at least twice a week that includes exercises that concentrate on the hip. There are multiple exercises you can perform. The physical therapists at Nebraska Medicine can help you develop a well-rounded routine that will keep you running and training at your best. 

Nebraska Medicine offers sports medicine services in multiple locations. Its primary location is in the Lauritzen Outpatient Center at 4014 Leavenworth St. Patients can see a surgeon, primary care specialist, physical therapy and get a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan – all in the same building and on the same day. The program uses a team approach that involves athletic trainers, sports-trained physical therapists, a dedicated concussion management team and primary care sports medicine doctors.

Are you Sidelined with a Running Injury?
The Nebraska Medicine Sports Medicine Program can help. To make an appointment, call 800.922.0000.