Gotta Run: Today’s a big day, and an injury update

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 31, 2016

The sun is up this morning on the most important running day of the year in Salisbury. The 33rd Annual Novant Health Winter Flight 8K, 5K Health Walk and Fun Run are set to roll this afternoon at Catawba College. There is a long list of superlatives for this event, but it starts with being a fun opportunity to go running and see some top athletes compete Salisbury. The Fun Run starts things off at 1:30 p.m., followed by the 8K and 5K Health Walk at 2 p.m.

Toeing the starting line will be lots of your friends and neighbors, and plenty of fantastic runners. The women’s field is loaded with world class Kenyan Grace Kahura (No. 4), past winner Molly Nunn (No. 1), world class endurance runner Meredith Dolhare (No. 2) and breast cancer survivor Ivey Cline (No. 3). There will be some fast times for the men, and the Health Walk 5K is a great way to join in and help support Rowan Helping Ministries. Plus the Fun Run is free to all kids, 12 and under. All proceeds go to support the programs of RHM.

Neal Wilkinson will be on hand to kick off the event with his rousing National Anthem, and Jacksonville Jaguars Defensive End Chris Smith will join Rowan Helping Ministries Executive Director Kyna Grubb as official starters of the 8K. Smith said, “It’s always good to be home with my family, but the most important things are to give back and help those in need. I’ve seen the important work that Rowan Helping Ministries does in my hometown, and that is why I support their mission. My parents raised me that when God blesses you, always remember to share that blessing with those in need.”

Another great long-sleeve dri-fit commemorative shirt with Whimziggy’s new Winter Flight logo goes to all participants. Registration is open at noon and will continue until 1:45 p.m. I will have more post-race Winter Flight thoughts next week.

Winter days are growing longer, and will continue to do so, with about 30 more minutes of daylight by the end of February regardless of what the groundhog does. Running every day and often more than once is just a regular part of my life. But a sciatic nerve injury has hampered that longstanding habit for more than a month. This was the second time in my life that this issue occurred, so I asked those experts who worked with me to offer some information good for everyone.

Jeter Chiropractic Clinic was where I started, just the same as in 2006. They found that I had a sacroiliac joint problem on the left side. Dr. Andy Jeter used therapy and ice to relax the muscles, tendons, ligaments and the joint itself. He then applied specific chiropractic techniques to the spine and the sacroiliac joint for realignment.

Runners and people in general get sciatic nerve injuries from lots of things. Dr. Jeter specified falls, car accidents, work injuries, stepping off a curb, getting in and out of a car wrong, a violent sneeze or cough and bad sleep habits or bedding.

To head off sciatic problems, avoid bending, twisting and lifting at the same time. Dr. Jeter, an NCAA Division 1 swimmer at East Carolina University, said, “Get a chiropractic adjustment on a regular basis. These adjustments make sure that all of your joints are in line and not wearing out prematurely. Living wears on the body and knocks things out of place in your spine. Wear the best shoes and sleep in the best beds possible.”

Chiropractors can also help with running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, runner’s knee and various back pains.

Fowler Physical Therapy was my next stop. Delaine Fowler, owner and a fantastic Ironman triathlete, felt that the sciatic nerve was getting compressed probably because of the piriformis tightness that caused my zinging pain down the leg. She found that I was standing while shifting away from the afflicted left leg and had a slight limp. I told her that I was not able to extend the leg fully and was carrying the leg instead of using it correctly.

Dr. Fowler found that I had restriction in my hip flexors and external hip rotators. She used several hands-on release techniques and sent me home with some symptom-relieving exercises and stretches. These things worked to end the high hamstring issues, while the tightness and discomfort moved to the hamstring tendon just above the back of the knee.

For the next two weeks, Dr. Fowler had me continue the exercises that made that area more mobile and released key restrictions in the IT band. All of this made my running much easier, and I kept running each morning, gradually increasing the speed while listening to the body. I have been able to run 5 miles the last two mornings with much decreased tightness, zinging pain and left leg weakness. On a couple of occasions, I had minor setbacks because of pushing more than I should have.

“David once again proved that not moving is rarely the answer when it comes to these types of injuries. Learning gentle movements that take the pain away while helping the healing is vital to handling pain and returning to normal life activities,” said Dr. Fowler.

With that said, I hope to have this issue in the rear view mirror very soon. Back next week with some running opportunities for February and news from Winter Flight.


David Freeze is a nationally certified running coach and president of the Salisbury Rowan Runners. Contact him at Learn more at