Maybe you took part in the recent London marathon. Or, perhaps you are relatively new to distance running and are building up to participate in a 5k. Whatever the event, or even if you run just to keep in shape, injury during training can be not only painful, but frustrating and disappointing too. Most running injuries occur from overuse and repetitive strain. How can you deal with some of the most common running injuries?
Common running injuries
There are a huge number of problems that can rise from running. Whilst it is great to be active and also take part in competitive sports, repeated stress on your joints, bones and muscles can take it’s toll.
Here are some common running injuries and how you can deal with them:
(1) Achilles Tendonitis
The mythical “achilles heel” is also the location for the Achilles tendon. This band of tissue connects your calf muscle to your heel bone and is a common injury for runners.
Repeated stress on this tendon can cause inflammation over time, particularly for runners that are unprepared. Gradually increasing distance, duration and intensity of runs is the best avoidance method, as injury to the Achilles tendon is often seen in runners that don’t allow their body time to adjust to their new regime.
Be careful of wearing old running shoes too. This can increase the risk of Achilles tendonitis.
(2) Patellar Tendonitis (Jumpers Knee)
Another tendon-related injury common in runners is Patellar tendonitis.
This tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone and, as you can imagine, gets a lot of wear and tear when used for running, particularly long-distance.
Inflammation and weakening of the tendon is usually the reason for this condition, although tears to the tendon are not uncommon either.
Increasing the intensity of training too soon is, again, something to avoid. Also, be careful if you have tight leg muscles as they won’t be able to correctly support the tendon, which can lead to tendon issues.
(3) Patellofemoral pain syndrome (Runners Knee)
More commonly known as Runner’s Knee, this condition is caused by damage to the cartilage in the kneecap. Subsequently, this can cause severe pain where the kneecap rests on the thighbone, particularly when going up
and down stairs.
Misalignment in the kneecap from repetitive use or from an injury, such as a dislocation, are the most common causes.
Consult with an Orthopaedic doctor about your options.
(4) Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
More commonly known as Shin Splints, this condition can affect runners, particularly those that are starting a new training regime.
The tibia, also known as the shinbone, located at the front of your lower leg, also gets considerable usage during running. Repetitive strain on the connective tissues which attach the muscle to the shin bone can result in mild to severe pain.
Conditions such as flat feet, or high arches can enhance the issue, so shoe inserts could be one option. Carefully choosing the terrain that you run on may also make a difference.
(5) Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue in your foot, spanning from your toe pads to your heel.
Irritation caused by running, can cause inflammation leading to heel pain, and flat feet or tight calf muscles can add to the risk of being prone to plantar fasciitis.
(6) Stress fractures
Tiny cracks in a bone are known as a stress fractures. They can occur in any bone in the body but typically they result from overuse, or a condition like osteoporosis where the bones are weakened.
Stress fractures in the lower legs and feet are common in runners.
Take care to build up your training programme at a comfortable and sensible pace to avoid putting too much stress on your bones.
Ensure your running shoes are adequate and seek Orthopaedic advice about using Orthotics, inserts that go inside your trainers, particularly if you have high arches or flat feet.
Running injuries: Prevention
Like most injuries, there are measures that can be taken to minimise your risk. These include:
- Prepare a manageable training programme
- Don’t overcommit to beyond the capabilities of your body and age
- Gradually build up duration, distance and intensity
- Ensure you have suitable running gear, particularly shoes
- Take adequate rest days, or rest periods, to allow your body to recover, particularly if you incur a minor injury
- Seek advice about any persistent aches and pains before they worsen
Running injuries: Treatment
Fortunately, if you do incur pain during or after training, there are a wide range of treatment options available for running injuries, many of which don’t require any surgery.
A thorough assessment with an Orthopaedic doctor will be the first step.
Some of the things they may suggest include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Modifying your running footwear
- Wearing inserts in your running shoes
- Strengthening and stretching exercises as part of physiotherapy
- Supportive braces
- Diversifying your training activities
- Cortisone injections