After training for the New York City Marathon in 2012, I developed a stress fracture in my shin that curbed my running for nearly two months. During this downtime, I wondered how these world class runners stay healthy throughout the year to compete on a regular basis.
I got my answer when I met Lineth Chepkurui, 26, from Kenya, who is the world record holder in the 12K and has run an impressive 67 minutes for the half marathon and 30 minutes for the 10K. After finishing second in the World Best 10K in Puerto Rico on Feb. 24, Lineth changed her travel itinerary because of injuries and flew to the United States to meet with renowned sports physician John Connors, a doctor of podiatry, Riverview Medical Center, and a team of sports physicians, including Dr. Anil K. Sharma, interventional spine and pain management specialist in Shrewsbury and affiliated with Riverview Medical Center, and John O'Connor, a doctor of chiropractic, director of Velocity Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation in Red Bank.
Connors' initial evaluation determined that Lineth's legs were different lengths, and over the years it has led to lower extremity sports injuries, including a disc bulge in her spine with tear at L4-L5, causing her to have sciatica, runner's knee and plantar fasciitis.
"It is unbelievable that Lineth has been competing at a world class level since 2011 with these injuries," Connors said. "World class runners have the same aches and pains that the casual runners have, but they are so mentally strong that they can push through it."
To help alleviate the back pain and sciatica, Sharma, through X-ray guidance, inserted a needle into her back near the L45 disc tear and injected an anti-inflammatory steroid medication to relieve the swelling and inflammation around the nerve.
"Lineth has such a high pain threshold that she kept running with this pain," Sharma said. "She did the whole procedure without any sedation and did very well. I believe this will help her to set another world record."
After the injection, Lineth had 10 days of intense treatments with Connors and O'Connor on her lower back, knee and foot.
Runner's knee and plantar fasciitis are the two most common running injuries that Connors sees and treats in his office daily. He was able to treat Lineth's injuries with the use of Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT). This form of treatment is noninvasive and involves the delivery of a unique set of acoustic pressure waves to the affected areas such as the knee and the plantar fascia with approximately a 94 percent success rate.
To help take the pressure off the spinal injury, O'Connor utilized spinal decompression therapy along with active and passive stretching techniques. Along with icing the injured areas, O'Connor treated Lineth with high intensity light therapy pads to increase blood flow to the injured areas, and promote the release of endorphins and other natural pain killers.
"I can't thank Dr. Connors and his team of sports doctors enough for all that they have done for me," said Lineth. "I am heading back to Kenya to resume my training for the upcoming road racing circuit that will take me all over the world."
Prior to Lineth leaving for Kenya, I had the opportunity to meet up with her at a local track where we ran together and talked about what is next for her in running. In the coming years, don't be surprised if you hear about Lineth breaking more world records.