As a runner, it's important to do all that you can to guard against overexertion injuries. You make sure you wear the right shoes, you stretch before and after your runs, and you take it easy if you feel a niggling little pain. Chances are, however, that there is an important contributor to running injuries that you're overlooking: hip alignment. If your hips are not properly aligned, the strain on your joints won't be distributed evenly, leaving you phone to problems like IT band syndrome and runner's knee. Here's a closer look at hip misalignment, its causes, and how you can address it.
What causes hip misalignment?
The tops of your femur bones are anchored into your pelvis by a series of ligaments, muscles and tendons. When one hip sits higher in the pelvic cavity than the other, this is referred to as hip misalignment. Though this can result from a traumatic injury like a car accident, the most common cause in runners is running on uneven surfaces – such as the side of the road. When you always run with one leg a little lower than the other, eventually the leg that's "higher" shifts a bit higher up in the pelvis. With so many runners taking to the side of the road for the majority of their miles, hip misalignment is a pretty common issue.
How does hip misalignment cause injuries in runners?
When one of your hips sits higher in the pelvis than the other, that leg is taking less of the impact than the other leg. Its joints have to absorb more shock, and this causes them to undergo more wear and tear. The ligaments, tendons and muscles are thus at a greater risk of injury. Essentially any running injury – from Achilles tendonitis to runner's knee – becomes more likely. IT band syndrome, which involves an inflammation of the band of connective tissue leading from the hip to the knee, is especially likely.
How can hip misalignment be treated?
You'll need to have your hips put back in alignment, and this is best done at the chiropractor's office. He or she will stretch your legs in a specific way to ensure your hips are sitting evenly. Adjusting your spine may also help correct your posture to help keep your hips in alignment. Your chiropractor may also prescribe some exercises for you to do at home in order to keep your hips in alignment.
Once you've been adjusted, however, you need to take measures to keep your hips in alignment. This means less running on the side of the road, and more running on flat trails. When you must run on the side of the road, alternate sides so that one leg is not always lower than the other.
If you're looking for a chiropractor in your area, visit All American Chiropratic Center.