It’s nearly that time again when thousands of runners, old and young, professional and amateur, experienced and novice, take to the streets of the capital for the annual London Marathon.
On Sunday 28 April 2019, more than 40,000 people will set off to run the most popular marathon in the world. This year there were a record 414,168 applicants to run the gruelling 26.2 mile course – up 7.3% on last year’s total.
Just under 55% of UK applications were from people who have never run a marathon before.
If you are one of those people who is training as D-day creeps ever closer, firstly we’d like to say congratulations, we’re right behind you. Secondly, we’d like to say there are some important things you need to know about taking care of your musculoskeletal health.
Common running injuries
Sadly, running injuries are all too common, both in training and in marathons themselves, and it’s important to know the signs to look out for and what to do. If you ignore a running injury, you could cause long-term and sometimes permanent damage and ruin your chances not only of competing in this year’s London Marathon but in future years too.
So, what common injuries do you need to look out for?
Runners knee – this is one of the most common injuries facing runners. It is a temporary irritation that affects the soft cartilage on the underside of the knee.
Symptoms: The symptoms are pain in and around the kneecap, which may come and go but is normally made worse by physical activity.
Treatment: You need to curb the intensity of your training regime and the distance you run until the symptoms subside. Anti-inflammatories and physical therapy can help.
Shin Splints – also known as medial tibia stress syndrome, this is most likely to occur in new runners, particularly those who don’t wear the correct footwear.
Symptoms: Persistent aching pain around the shin bones, accompanied by swelling.
Treatment: You need to rest and use ice packs to ease the swelling. Appropriate orthotics in your shoes can help and you can take anti-inflammatories. You may need an X-ray if the symptoms do not settle.
Pulled muscle – this may come on suddenly and is normally caused by fatigue, failing to warm up properly or overuse.
Symptoms: Pain, soreness and limited movement in the affected muscle. There may also be bruising and stiffness.
Treatment: You will need to use the RICE approach (rest, ice, compression and elevation).
Ankle sprain – this happens when the ligaments supporting the ankle are overstretched and with time they can tear. It can be mild or severe.
Symptoms: Sharp pain which is worsened by walking. Swelling and stiffness.
Treatment: You should stop running immediately and use the RICE approach.
Stress fracture – this occurs when a bone is subjected to too much stress and it occurs most commonly for runners in their feet, heels and shins.
Symptoms: Severe pain and inability to bear weight on the affected area.
Treatment: Seek Orthopaedic review urgently. You should discontinue running and any other strenuous form of exercise for six to eight weeks until the fracture is fully healed. You will normally need a period of complete immobilisation.
If you notice any unexplained burning or aching during a running session, or a sharp body pain or long-term stiffness after training you should always seek medical help as this can be a sign that your injury may be worsening.
Obviously, avoiding injury altogether is the best outcome for all types of runners. So, as you countdown to 28 April, it’s worth remembering:
- Pace yourself and avoid doing too much too quickly.
- Pay attention to your body – if it’s telling you it’s time to slow down or stop, do it.
- Rest – your body needs time to rest and recover. Make sure you build some downtime into your training schedule.
If you think you may have developed a running injury, contact us for prompt specialist diagnosis and treatment.