Runners are known to push their bodies to the limits, but more often than not that could result to injury. While their spirits are strong, their body sometimes can’t keep up, and that’s where the problem lies. Today we’ll talk about common running injuries and how physiotherapy helps with faster returns to running and sport.
Common Running Injuries
Often known as the most prevalent type of injury in runners, patellofemoral pain often occurs due to maltracking of the patella (kneecap). This usually presents as pain at the front of the knee, and can occur for a variety of reasons including muscle weakness, reduced muscle length or biomechanical errors. Pain is usually experienced when squatting, running, up and down the stairs, or even when sitting with the knee bent for prolonged periods of time.
Stress fractures may occur in runners when they begin pushing themselves too hard before they have adapted to a new regimen or activity, otherwise known as a load error. They may also occur due to poor biomechanics. Stress fractures often occur in the foot, with pain location dependant on the type of stress fracture. Pain usually worsens with continued running.
Shin splints are usually confused with stress fractures due to the similarity of cause - both injuries arise when changing workloads or running regime too quickly. The defining characteristic of shin splints, however, is that it occurs at the inside of your shin/lower leg, and worsens with running.
As you may have guessed, this injury involves the achilles tendon, which attaches the back of the heel (calcaneus) to the calf muscle. Not surprisingly, this type of injury also occurs due to poor load management with running, causing pain and sometimes stiffness in the achilles tendon itself. Specific physiotherapy exercises are important in managing this type of injury, to settle the tendon pain and enable the tendon to re-adapt to running loads.
Muscle injuries, including tears and strains are also common in running. These may happen when you overstretch a muscle, causing small tears. Sometimes a popping or tearing sensation can also occur when it happens. Some of the usual sites of muscle injuries in running are the groin, calf, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
An acutely painful type of injury, an ankle sprain, occurs when the foot rolls in or out. As a result of this unfortunate incident, ligaments that surround the ankle are stretched to their limits and teared, thus the feeling of pain. It is important these types of injuries are seen to immediately, so as to maximise recovery.
Plantar fasciitis refers to pain in the heel or sole of the foot. The plantar fascia is the tissue which extends from the heel to the bottom of the foot and toes. Plantar fasciitis commonly affects individuals who have a high arch and tight calf muscles. Some incidents are also associated with increased physical activity, or poor footwear, although there are cases wherein the injury can happen unexpectedly and without obvious causes.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band (ITB) refers to taut band that covers the area starting from the top of the hip, coursing through the outside of the thigh, onto the outside of the knee. In ITB syndrome, this band causes friction on the outside of the knee, leading to pain in this location.
Preventing Common Running Injuries
As we all know, runners are stubborn by nature, because asking them to get off their feet is like asking anyone to stop breathing! So how do you prevent common running injuries from even occurring in the first place?
While runners are inclined to challenge their physical limitations, can be unwise to do so. Instead, you should allow some time for the body to make adjustments. Some of the ways to do it is by adding no more than 20 percent each week to mileage. Of course, don’t forget to get some rest days - don’t abuse your body!
Warm Up and Cool Down
Just like car engines, the body needs to warm up and cool down in order to get prepared for some strenuous activity. It helps you ease into running effectively, and your body will work with you. Do this in order to prevent injuries, and your body will love you for it.
Consider Your Form and Strength
Running injuries are not just caused by overuse of the feet. Sometimes it is due to poor biomechanics such as hip or trunk weakness. Make sure you get a biomechanical assessment and ask how you can improve your form and build strength so you can keep injuries at bay. Prevention is easier than cure!
How Physiotherapy Can Help
Stress to muscles and bones can cause injury to anyone, and that includes runners. This is the part where physiotherapy comes in. Physiotherapists are able to assess the injury, consider running biomechanics, plan a management regime, and also give due education on how to prevent the same issue from happening again in the future. Considering how running injuries are musculoskeletal problems in nature, physiotherapists are valuable partners in recovery.
Fortunately, our experienced professionals at Melbourne Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy are all trained in assessment, treatment, and education when it comes to common running injuries. Contact us today and be on your way to running injury-free.