Most common running injuries and what to do about them
Made it to the finish line of your running race … but now you’re sore?
Have you recently injured yourself whilst running? Perhaps you noticed a little niggle during your run or maybe it only popped up afterwards? With the weather warming up and with all the fun runs coming and going, more and more are we seeing some common injuries.
There are a number of musculoskeletal conditions that can result from running. Most often, they are caused by overuse i.e. repeated forces over a long period of time with the inability of the bone, tendon or muscle to adapt. Moreover, sudden changes in training volume can contribute too.
Here is some information about our top 5 running injuries:
Medial tibial stress syndrome
Also commonly known as shin splints, this is a stress reaction to the shin bone which leads to nagging or stabbing pains at the front of the leg. It is usually caused by excessive tugging of the muscles at the front of the ankle typically when there has been a sudden change in training (e.g. running a total of 10km in one week, then doubling this the next), or due to biomechanical factors such as the arch of your foot collapsing with each step. The pain can also be generated by the bone periosteum itself due to repetitive stress placed on it. Treatment therefore involves modifying your training schedule and commencing physiotherapist-guided exercises to correct your biomechanics. In the meantime, massage, ice and strapping and a gel insert may help to settle symptoms. Some patients benefit from correct orthotics.
This is an overuse syndrome causing pain and swelling in the Achilles tendon which joins the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is most commonly caused, once again, by an inability for the tendon to adapt to the running your are doing so it cannot effectively work as a spring and efficiently propel you forwards while you run. Tight calf muscles, stiff ankle joints, inappropriately fitted shoes, or a change in the running surface can also contribute. Treatment involves offloading the tendon by modifying your training, perhaps using a heel lift, and doing some specific exercises to strengthen the calf and tendon as well as the whole lower limb eg. allowing the body to adapt to the load you are placing on it. Taping may also be helpful in the short term. Your physio can assist you with all of this.
ITB Friction syndrome (ITBFS)
ITB Friction syndrome is an irritation of the structures that sit on the outside of the knee, most commonly the fat pad. Symptoms may include pain and swelling in this area, worsening with increased activity, particularly bending the knee. ITBFS is caused by repeated pressure from overuse, rather than one specific incidence and is usually due to altered biomechanics, or an imbalance of muscle strength and/or length in the surrounding muscles. Management involves allowing the irritation to settle and doing specific exercises to correct the imbalances that have been found on assessment. A biomechanics assessment also needs to be done to stop the problem re-occuring.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)
Also known as runners’ knee, this condition is characterised by pain behind and around the knee cap (patella) due to excessive pressure between the patella and the thigh bone (femur). This is usually due to poor alignment or ‘tracking’ of the knee cap, from certain muscle weakness or tightness. Pain is usually felt when squatting, climbing stairs, kneeling or hopping. PFPS can be treated with taping, ice and anti-inflammatories but most importantly, an individualised exercise program to get your knee cap moving in its groove. Gait retraining has shown to be very effective in reducing patella loads which minimises impact and thus overuse of the area.
Plantar fasciitis/plantar fasciiosis
This is an irritation of the soft tissue structure that lies on the under surface of your foot. It may be due to excessive pressure through the foot with increased training or again, improper footwear or running on uneven surfaces. Pain is most felt on the first few steps after getting up in the morning and tends to warm up throughout the day. Treatment involves a very specific exercise, as guided by a physiotherapist, as well as taping and/or orthotics in the short term.
These 5 conditions are not an exhaustive list of the types of injuries that can occur from running nor is it a complete list of treatment advice. Each individual is different as is their injury and way to best treat them. If you are experiencing pain similar to this, or anywhere else – make an appointment with one of our physios who will be sure to get you back on track with a personalised service- 94285772.