Common running injuries usually occur due to overuse, and can happen within runners of any distance. From the weekend park run to training for a marathon, anyone is susceptible. Here we go through 5 common running injuries you need to be aware of and how you can manage them, if they appear!
‘Runner’s Knee’ – What is it?
Otherwise known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) it is a very common injury in runners. Due to the physical impact of running, this can cause irritation where your kneecap rests into your thighbone and can result in knee pain just below the kneecap ranging from minimal to severe. There are a number of causes of this condition including incorrect running shoes, running on uneven surfaces, bio-mechanical issues, along with weak quadriceps and hips. Due to the repetitive nature of force generated through the knee joint when running, pain can occur suddenly or gradually over time. Knee injuries account for up to 40% of running related injuries which is a staggering figure, so preventing it is important.
What can you do? – There are many discussions to what you need to do, to help Runner’s Knee. In the short term, if your knee continues to hurt, take a few days off your regular run and let your knee rest and recover, lessening it’s workload. For long term prevention, consider the surfaces that you are running and try to include a combination of different ones, and make sure that you are using correct footwear. Also, look at strengthening your quadriceps to increase their stability as weak quads can lead your knee to track incorrectly, and stretch your hips and hamstrings properly too! Always be monitoring your distance, intensity and gradient of your runs after a bout of Runner’s Knee in order to build back into your training regime consistently.
Achilles Tendinitis – What is it?
This is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon and is an overuse injury. Not to be confused with an Achilles Tendinopathy which is a degenerative (reduction) response. Your Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of your ankle which connects the calf muscles to the bottom of the heel bone. If you are experiencing swelling and pain on or around your heel, you may be experiencing Achilles Tendinitis. Overuse is normally the main cause of the condition however there are other reasons which can increase the risk of sustaining the injury, including tight calves (putting more strain on your Achilles), poor footwear, increase in volume or intensity along with running surfaces.
What can you do? – Initially, rest and being off your feet is best, along with applying ice regularly throughout the day to reduce inflammation and the pain in the short term. For a more long term solution, consider strengthening your lower legs by completing a number of exercises. These include single-leg squats, single-leg deadlifts, calf raises and heel drops. For example, to complete a heel drop, stand with the balls of your feet on a step and rise up on both feet. Once raised, take your stronger foot off the step, lowering down on your injured foot, dropping your heel below the step. Rise back up to return your other foot to the step. Repeat this exercise for 15-20 reps, 3-4 times a day.
Plantar Fasciitis – What is it?
Another inflammation injury which is found in the bottom of your foot and arguably one of the most annoying issues to hinder runners. The plantar fascia is the elastic band like structure that runs on the underside of your foot. Through regular running, the constant force that is generated on the fascia can irritate it and lead to pain, anything from a ‘dull ache’ or ‘constant nagging’ to excruciating, on the underside of the foot.
What can you do? – If you think you have it, avoid bare feet and look to strengthen your calf muscles in the short term. Also, if you have a cricket ball, golf ball or something similar, roll your foot over the top of it which will help release the fascia. If you don’t have anything available, a frozen lemon or an old coffee jar filed with water chilled in the freezer will do just the trick! Did you see our #MobilisationMonday post on our Facebook page recently? We show you how to complete this simple exercise.
Shin splints – What is it?
The Basics – This term shin splints can refer to a range of conditions that feature pain along the inside of the shin. The more accurate description of it is medial tibial stress syndrome which is the most common cause of shin pain. Typically, and you’ll be seeing a common theme here, it is an overuse injury and can be the result of a quick increase in the distance and running that you are doing. Symptoms can range from tenderness and inflammation in the muscles throughout the shin, to a possible stress fracture along the tibia resulting in severe pain in every stride. The combination of impact on your legs and not enough experience running long distance and incorrect footwear leaves new runners at high risk developing this ailment.
What can you do? – Try not to run through the pain, as that may make things worse. Take some rest, avoiding activities which include impact on your legs and apply ice to the area in order to reduce the inflammation. If you can, apply ice for 10 minutes every hour to begin with, reducing it down to 3 to 4 times as the inflammation and pain decreases. Including other activities such as cycling and swimming may aid recovery due to the non impact nature of them.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) – What is it?
The iliotibial (IT) band is a tendon that lies along the outside of the thigh connecting the hip to the knee. When you run, your knee flexes and extends, which can cause the Iliotibial band to rub on the side of the thigh bone and it to become inflammed. The pain has been compared to a stabbing pain on the side the knee, and can be felt severely when running down hill. This is an injury that can be exacerbated easily if left untreated, however there are ways this can be treated straightaway.
What can you do? – Rest is important in the short term to allow the inflamed tendon to heal, as continuous with ITBS will make it worse. Massaging the quadriceps and hamstrings on the affected side, combined with using a foam roller will help things loosen up and applying ice will help bring the inflammation down. We treat a number of patients with ITBS and the use of dry needling has proved popular in cases that can’t be self treated.
Overall, there are a number of running injuries that you can be susceptible to, however there are treatments available. If you find there has been no improvement with two weeks of using the rehab techniques described above, our team will be more than happy to help get you back in your running shoes.
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