Running pain free

Allyson Fillmore with physical therapists in Winneshiek Medical Center’s Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Department.
Allyson Fillmore, a Luther College runner, now runs pain-free after working with physical therapists in Winneshiek Medical Center’s Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Department. Allyson (left) is pictured on the treadmill with Rebecca Moonen, DPT and Dennis Keefe, MS, PT.

Allyson Fillmore loves to run.  But, after her second cross country race as a Luther College freshman, she began to experience tightness and pain in her lower legs.  Her symptoms were diagnosed as anterior compartment syndrome, a condition generally experienced by athletes who intensely train in weight-bearing sports, such as running.  Allyson had surgery and therapy in her hometown of Ames, Iowa, but upon her return to Luther in the fall of her sophomore year, the pain began to resurface.

Allyson sought physical therapy at Winneshiek Medical Center.

“I had been through different types of therapy before and following my surgery.  At Winneshiek Medical Center, I began ASTYM and core strengthening.”  Allyson was also seen by physical therapist Dennis Keefe, who suggested he analyze how she runs, or her gait.  “Dennis videotaped me on the treadmill and we talked about some ways to improve how I run.  He noticed where my feet were landing with each stride, which could be causing my lower legs extra stress.”  Dennis suggested that Allyson change her cadence (how many steps taken per minute) by running with a metronome.  He says, “As part of a thorough running analysis we can look more closely at different factors that may be contributing to a runner’s current problem or to prevent future injury.  Sometimes these changes can involve altering stride length (by using the metronome), identifying areas of weakness or tightness, looking at proper footwear/orthotics based on an individual’s foot type, or modifying training schedules.”

The first time she ran with the metronome, Allyson ran pain free…and she went 4 ½ miles.  “My legs felt great and I could have gone further, but I was out of shape!” she says.  Exhilarated by her success, Allyson did a little bragging to her teammates.  She says, “I about started crying when I told my coach I had run without pain, and I made a big deal about my mileage with my teammates.  They were all excited for me, knowing how much I’ve been through all year.”  Allyson adds, “Now I run with my IPod, but instead of music, I run to the sound of beeps.  It threw me off at first, and I’d get tripped up, but I got the hang of running to a beat pretty quickly.”

Allyson looks forward to a summer of cross country training.  “I plan to do the 300-mile plan this summer, but I also need to listen to my body,” she says.  “I am just so thankful that people were able to help me at Winneshiek Medical Center and I’m able to run without any pain – it’s really amazing!”

Along with Mayo Clinic Health System podiatrist, Thomas Marquardt, D.P.M., the physical therapy team at Winneshiek Medical Center is here to help area runners keep running.

To schedule an appointment for a runner’s gait analysis or for more information call Winneshiek Medical Center Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine at 563-382-2911.

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