The Three Most Common Running Injuries And How To Avoid Them

Oct 29 2014 0 Comments October 2014

Running Physical Injury, Knee Pain


Runner’s knee, or patellofemeral pain syndrome (PMPS), is the most common injury amongst runners – some studies put it as high as 22% of all injuries.  Pain is felt just below the kneecap and this pain will increase as the intensity of exercise increases.  Although runner’s knee is a minor problem which can be managed with rest, it is a most frustrating one which can put you out of the field for a while. There are many factors which cause this debilitating condition, varying from ill fitting shoes or shoes with poor support, to uneven running surfaces and weak hips and quads.  The major problem is that runners will not rest when the first sign of pain rears its ugly head. The short term solution is simple – if your knee hurts, don’t run, and reduce inflammation with ice packs or anti-inflammatory drugs. If you can run without pain, then do so, but as soon as the pain reappears then stop running.  Running on alternate days may be a good solution, or going on uphill runs and avoiding down hills. Uphill runs strengthen your glutes which in turn will help hip and thigh movement and stop your knees from turning inwards.  Gradually increase your running until you feel you are able to return to your original route and schedule and see if the pain returns.  If it does return, then take your schedule back to the previous level. In the long term, make sure you have running shoes that not only give you adequate support and fit well but also absorb impact shock.  Run on ground which is even.  Perform exercises which will strengthen your knee.  Try shortening your stride or making sure your foot hits the ground directly underneath your centre of gravity.
    There can’t be a runner out there who hasn’t experienced the pain of shin splints at some time,  The condition, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome can be mild, with the muscles in the shin area becoming inflamed and tender, or it can be severe, turning into a stress fracture along the tibia.  Shin splints make up 15% of running injuries. The cause of shin splints is usually associated with an increase in running activity or starting a new activity which puts strain on tendons, muscle and bone tissue.  Having tight half muscles will also exacerbate the problem.  Runners with high arches or flat feet are more likely to succumb than other runners.  It is advisable for people with high arches to wear a cushioned running shoe and people with flat feet may find a rigid shoe solves the problem. Worn, or ill fitting running shoes can also be culprits, together with constantly running on hard surfaces.  If you want to avoid shin splints then increase distance and speed very gradually to allow your body to adapt to a new regimen. At the first sign of a problem, reduce your running schedule to a level where there is no pain and then gradually increase the length, speed and difficulty of the run over a few weeks.  The classic cure is ice, rest and anti-inflammatories. Ice the area for around 15 to 20 minutes and keep the offending leg or legs, elevated at night to bring down the inflammation
    Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia which is the band of tissue underneath the foot which runs from the toes to the heel.  It is said that 15% of runners who suffer injuries will have problems with plantar fasciitis. This can manifest itself as a dull pain along the arch of the foot or the heel, or a pain which has been likened to treading on a nail.  The pain can disappear while running but it can return unexpectedly at any time, especially after long periods of standing or standing up after a period of prolonged sitting. The major cause of this problem is tight and weakened muscles in the foot, and people in the 40 to 60 year old bracket are more likely to have the problem. Another cause can be back problems coupled with weak core muscles.  However, ill fitting footwear and being overweight are also factors to be considered.  Runners with high arches and runners with flat feet are also more at risk, as both conditions cause the plantar fascia to move further away from the heel bone. Suffers should wear appropriate foot wear to help combat the problem. While some runners will continue their training whilst suffering from plantar fasciitis, it is wise to discontinue training until the problem is healed.  This can take between three and twelve months, depending on the severity of the case.  Many experts believe that core strength is the key to avoiding the injury and to curing it.  Many runners who have dedicated time to disciplines such as Pilates and yoga, have found the problem disappears.  
    Preventing injury while running is essential to its enjoyment, so remember to make yourself visible to other road users by wearing reflective gear such as a reflective running vest or reflective running belt.


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