Why Runners Should See a Physical Therapist

Why Runners Should See a Physical Therapist

Running can be an extremely rewarding experience for many people, not to mention the positive effects it can have on your overall health and fitness level. However, running can also be accompanied by certain specific physical health concerns, depending on the type of running you do and how often.

Whether you’ve experienced running-related injuries in the past or want to reduce your risk of injury in the future, seeking the services of a physical therapist can help to improve your running technique while also working to prevent future injuries. Here are a few signs for runners that you should be seeing a physical therapist:

You’re experiencing recurring pain. Muscle soreness after running is normal, particularly after a long or especially intense run, and usually fades within a period of days. However, if you’re feeling pain in your shins, feet, legs, or back that doesn’t fade away with normal soreness or comes back in full force the next time you run, you should see a physical therapist to ensure that you’re not causing lasting damage to your muscles and joints.

Your single-leg balance has decreased. If you have more trouble balancing on one leg than you used to, it could be an indicator of deficient stability that might lead to an injury if left unchecked. Your physical therapist will be able to improve your stability and balance over time to prevent an injury from developing due to your body naturally favoring one side and therefore overusing it.

What can a physical therapist do for me?

For runners and other athletes, physical therapists will often focus on building the muscles around the joints and tendons that could be damaged or have already been damaged by the sport. This includes utilizing resistance bands, stability balls, and body weight exercises to improve stability and balance as well as foam rollers to properly massage and relax sore muscles.

Some runners experience a decreased range of motion in their knees, ankles, or hips after running periodically for months or years, especially if the patient in question is a long-distance runner. A high-quality physical therapist will not only conduct productive sessions to increase flexibility and range of motion in those key areas, they will assign stretches and exercises for the patient to perform at home in order to expedite recovery and instill healthy habits.

In addition to seeking regular treatment from a physical therapist, the best way to avoid injury as a runner is to follow a plan that increases mileage gradually. Increasing distance and speed too quickly is one of the easiest ways to get injured.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741