Sometimes we just don’t know

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a recap post. Here’s one in a slightly different format than we’re used to.

I’ve long believed that anyone who says they don’t have the answer to everything probably knows more than the self-proclaimed "expert" who claims to know everything. Let’s be honest, it’s impossible to know everything about every topic that can come up, even in a field in which you’re an expert.

For most questions, you can find an answer. However, sometimes there simply isn’t an answer.

For example, stretching before working out. First, we thought it was a good thing. Then we thought it was a bad thing.

The truth?

The review found few lingering negative impacts from these short stretches, especially if the volunteers followed that stretching with several minutes of jogging or other basic warm-up movements. … People who stretched in this way for at least five minutes during a warm-up were significantly less likely to strain or tear a muscle subsequently.

Now, distance runners are highly unlikely to suffer a strain or tear. These are injuries that typically occur in explosive sports. So the result for distance runners seems to be minimal likely benefit but also minimal likely detriment. So do what you’re comfortable with.

For another example, what will help with running injuries?

The answer isn’t all that clear cut. I’ve experienced this with plantar fasciitis, a very stubborn injury for some people. Depending on the individual, I’ve seen various treatments work. From shoe changes or inserts to direct stretching of the plantar facia to strengthening of the muscles of the foot to stretching of the calf or even hamstring to the Strassburg Sock. Sometimes it’s a combination of more than one of these things, sometimes just one of them gets the runner past the problem.

There’s not always a rhyme or reason for what works, either. So what do I usually tell a runner who experiences plantar fasciitis or any kind of soreness in the bottom of the foot? Try several things. See what works for you. Then be serious about doing it until the problem is completely resolved.

Sometimes this is what works best. Sometimes smacking the side of the TV was the best option (to use the analogy Hutchinson did in the link above). Sometimes trying whatever you can think of is how you will get over that injury. Why? We may never know. However, if it works, does why really matter?

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