On December 5, 2021, Dr. Moran ran the California International Marathon in Sacramento, California, where she placed ninth overall and achieved a personal best of 2:33:37. She was the only Canadian woman to rank in the top 10 elite women’s field in the competition.
By Dr. Brittany Moran |
As are all patients, runners are unique individuals. They’re so inspiring because they’re the type that want to be better yesterday. As a chiropractor and runner, I treat and care for runners and endurance athletes. It’s exciting to work with people who are so motivated and, at the same time, connect with them because I’ve been there myself.
I’ve had some pretty big injuries throughout my running career. In fact, when I first got injured, I had just graduated from chiropractic school. I thought to myself, who’s going to want to visit an injured chiropractor? Since then, I’ve learned that I’m human and I get injured too. This has truly helped me be more empathetic toward my patients. They can also relate to me when I tell them, “I get it. I’ve been there. Here are the things you can do to get yourself back at it, and you will.”
Here’s what you can do to help improve your running technique, avoid injury, and move forward with your goals.
How My Passion for Helping Runners and Endurance Athletes Started
I fell in love with running in elementary school. I did all the sports but running was the one that stood out to me most because I could outrun the boys! I was fortunate to have great programs and coaches all the way up to and throughout high school. I also ran on the varsity track and cross-country teams at the University of Windsor. All of this helped grow my love for running and learn more about it.
When I graduated from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), I had a bit more time as I was building my practice. It was then that I ran my first marathon, which inspired me to get my own coach and work towards being more competitive.
My ultimate goal for 2022 is to run another personal best and be on the elite list in the Berlin or London marathons!
Discovering a Career in Chiropractic Care
I studied kinesiology at the University of Windsor, which had a co-op component. I chose to shadow a chiropractor because it seemed like an interesting career. The more I learned about it, the more perfect it seemed for me. I ended up applying and getting accepted into CMCC, where I completed my studies. I’ve absolutely loved my career as a chiropractor so far.
Providing Care to a Unique Population
As a chiropractor at The Runner’s Academy in Toronto, I work mostly with runners, but also endurance athletes and triathletes, all at varying levels. Some are weekend warriors; others are a bit more serious and even elite.
One of the main reasons we see our patients are injury. However, we also help improve their running technique by doing gait assessment and retraining. We also provide full movement, strength assessments, and education to help patients understand how to get the most out of their training and body from a mechanics, strength, and movement standpoint.
We do as much as we can to help prevent injuries in the first place, but, as runners, we know that they’re likely to happen. That’s where we, as chiropractors, can come in to support runners from all angles, and get them back on their feet even better than before!
Tips for Getting into Running
My biggest advice is: Don’t do too much too soon. If you’re new to running, there’s nothing wrong with doing a “run walk”, which means slowly increasing your overall running mileage and intensity. This can help foster a smooth transition to integrating running into your routine.
Dressing for the right conditions is also important. For example, during winter you want to layer. A good practice is to write down what you wore, what the temperature was, and how comfortable you were for a few runs. This will help you figure out what you need to be comfortable out there.
The Benefits of Active Pre-Run Stretching
I’m a big fan of dynamic movement. This means incorporating an active pre-run routine, starting from more general movements to more specific, running-related movements such as marching on the spot.
It’s important to recognize that when we run, we often go from a static position (such as laying down or sitting) to standing up tall and doing a completely different movement. Therefore, consider the position you’re coming from heading into your run. If you’re someone who’s been sitting for the last eight hours, getting some good spine mobility, or doing an active type of hip flexor stretch before you run is a great way to warm up.
It’s always important to do some pre-run movement to get our bodies ready for the task at hand – the run!
My Favourite Post-Run Stretching Routine
One of my favourite post-run stretching routines is active isolated stretching. Here, you’re actively using the opposite muscle of the one you’re trying to stretch. The stretch is held for only one second – to the point of feeling it – and then released and repeated up to 10 times. By doing this, you’re working through the range of motion at the joints and getting good blood flow because you’re actively moving.
The benefit of consistently doing any pre- or post-run routine is also being able to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling
day-to-day and even side to side.
Avoiding Injury with a Holistic Approach to Well-Being
Approaching injuries in a holistic way is key. Throughout my practice, I’ve learned that they’re complex – it’s often not just one thing that causes an injury.
For example, when I reflected on my injuries, I realized that the biggest factor that put me over the edge was stress. But not stress from running – stress from the rest of life.
It’s interesting, but when you’re stressed – whether it be emotional, mental, or physical – and are also working hard at running, the first thing that your brain tends to do is shut you down physically. In fact, a study by Johnston et al. (2020) found that endurance athletes who reported psychological or lifestyle stress had a 32 per cent per cent increase in risk of a new injury the following week.
Therefore, when I see patients who are injured, I like to work with them to figure out what’s going on in the rest of their life. I like to ask them if there’s anything in particular they’re dealing with at this time that could impact their running. Oftentimes, when they’ve accepted that they’re injured and are better able to look back on the situation, they tell me, “You know what, I was actually really stressed at that time.”
Shifting your attitude towards an injury as an opportunity to learn and grow is a great way to come back to running better and smarter.
Changing My Thinking Pattern
When I first started running competitively, I was very negative on myself. It turns out, it’s really hard to run fast with this type of thinking! Over the years, the biggest mindset shift for me was just having fun with it. Also, not putting pressure on myself with a time I wanted to run, but rather being curious about how fast I could run. I try my best to enjoy the journey and be grateful for every run and opportunity I get.
Complementing Chiropractic Care with Coaching to Runners and Endurance Athletes
For more running tips, connect with me on Instagram @torunningchiro.
If you live in another part of Ontario, you can use OCA’s Chiropractor locator to find a chiropractor closer to you, who ideally focuses on helping runners and endurance athletes.