The Five Most Common Running Injuries

The Five Most Common Running Injuries

Running Injuries, An All To Common Complaint

If you are a runner and frustrated with always being injured, rest assured you are not alone, Sports Medicine Australia suggest that around 70% of runners sustain injuries. The biggest risk factor in the development of running injuries is considered to be related to “training errors”. Training errors encompasses simple mistakes such as building up running mileage to fast (basically, too much too soon), as well as not giving yourself enough rest between sessions, or allowing enough time to adapt when changing running gradients/terrain… What follows are a list of some of the most common running injuries and a couple of tips on how to manage, avoid, fix them…

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is one of the major foot complaints experienced among runners (and the population in general). The plantar fascia is a tissue which helps support and maintain the arches of your foot. Repetitive strain placed on the plantar fascia running may cause reactive changes in the tissue commonly at the origin of the plantar fascia located at the inside of the heel bone. These reactive changes can result in pain, pain which is frequently worse in the mornings and can ultimately lead to an inability for the individual to continue their running regime as a result.

What Can Be Done To Help Fix Plantar Fascia Pain?: Plantar fasciopathy pain is typically experienced under the heel, or in the foot arch. Worse in the morning when getting out of bed and taking those first steps of the day, or when moving following a period of inactivity such as rising from the desk after sitting at work for a couple of hours. Footwear changes as well as the use of insoles can play an important role in the treatment of plantar fascia pain. Accompanied with strengthening the muscles that help support the arch of your feet, including the intrinsic foot muscles and tibialis posterior can also be of benefit. Self massage using a ball, or massager under the arch and around the heel, along with stretching the foot and lower leg tissues also have at least anecdotal evidence of being beneficial in helping manage the discomfort.

Preventing Plantar Fasciopathy: If you are looking at being proactive in the prevention of developing plantar fasciopathy then having a foot and gait biomechanics assessment by a physiotherapist or podiatrist is a great starting point before starting or changing any running program.

What Can A Physiotherapist Offer For Plantar Fascia Pain?: At Sydney Physio Clinic we are experienced in the assessment of plantar fascia injury and in the prescription of appropriate self management options. We can also suggest footwear alternatives, insoles and training changes to help manage the pain. At Sydney Physio Clinic we also have shockwave therapy, shockwave is a research proven effective treatment approach for chronic plantar fascia pain and dysfunction.

Runner’s Knee

It is suggested that runners knee is responsible for 40% of all running injuries. Runners knee pain is from the irritation of the patellofemoral complex felt around the kneecap. The pain associated with runners knee is typically felt either, or both during and after a run. One of the most common sensations experienced with runner’s knee is pain going down stairs, or hills once cooled down following a run.

What Can You Do To Help Manage Runners Knee?: Mixing up your training is a good start, meaning not just running, running, running day after day. Adding a variety of exercise to your weekly program like swimming, pool running, cross trainer, cycling or upper body weights can give your knees a chance to bounce back after each run and avoid overloading tissues. Frequently issues of foot biomechanics, soft tissue flexibility, hip and thigh strength/stability are the main factors that play a role in someone developing runners knee. Gaining an understanding of the cause and ultimately correcting it, working on body mechanics and running form is crucial.

Preventing Runners Knee: Strengthen muscles that assist in supporting the knee and pelvis, through working on performing pain free, good alignment single leg squat variations .

Shin splints One Of The Common Running Injuries

Shin splints refers to the pain felt along the shinbone, the most common area is the medial border of the tibia (being the inside of the large shin bone). Shin splints is characterized by pain and tenderness in the area, pain may be experienced at the start of a run and subside, or throughout the run, or only experienced following a run.

What Can You Do To Help Manage Shin Splint Pain?: As with a lot of injuries, rest frequently plays a big role in recovering from shin splints. Rest coupled with the regular use of ice packs and anti-inflammatory medication can effectively help manage the pain and may help in settling episodes of shin pain. However, an accurate diagnosis from your physiotherapist, podiatrist, sports medicine specialist can prevent your shin pain from becoming chronic, or miss managing a stress fracture.

Preventing Shin Splints: Training errors play a significant role, therefore making sure speed and distance are increased gradually is very important allowing tissues time to adapt. As well as balancing the training load on your legs by introducing cross training in your weekly routine, swapping out some running load with exercises less impactful on your shins, including swimming and cycling. Regularly stretch your calves and consider getting regular remedial massage specifically on your calf muscles if you are training heavily. In some situations, insoles, taping techniques, or shin splint leg supports can assist in providing relief to the pain by off loading the sore tissues.

Achilles Tendinopathy

Your Achilles tendon connects two major calf muscles to the heel bone, when the Achilles tendon is put under significant stress it may become reactive and painful. If reactive change in the Achilles tendon is not addressed it can fairly readily progress to a chronic longer term situation.

What Can You Do To Help Manage Achilles Tendinopathy?: RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a good start. Very seldom will someone be able to continue training through significant Achilles tendon pain, therefore again relative rest almost always plays a pivotal role in running injuries like Achilles tendionpathy. Once initial discomfort has subsided, an appropriate loading program can be engaged, loading that may include stretching, strengthening exercises for the calf and Achilles and progressive loading towards a return to running.

Prevention Of Achilles Tendinopathy: For females (and some males) avoid wearing high heels on a daily basis. High heels place the tendon in a relatively shortened position which may over time potentially lead to the shortening of the tendon making it less tolerant of the stretching load placed on the tendon when running. Conversely unsupportive shoes with zero heel height (zero heel pitch) such as wearing flip flops, or ballet flats can aggravate Achilles tendinopathy. When starting out running, or time has come to replace your running shoes then strongly consider getting fitted for your new shoes in a specialist running store, starting off with the right pair of running shoes for your foot and running demands is always money well spent and may well save you money in the long run, money saved on shoes is often spent ten fold at a podiatrist or physio trying to remedy the issue that could have been prevented from some better shoes in the first place…

What Can A Physiotherapist Offer With Regard To Achilles Tendinopathy Treatment?: At Sydney Physio Clinic we can help guide you on appropriate self management options, we can also suggest some appropriate footwear options and training changes to help manage the pain. Sydney Physio Clinic also has Shockwave Therapy among other treatment modalities, which is a research proven effective treatment approach for chronic Achilles tendinopathy and dysfunction.

Iliotibial Band Frictional Syndrome

ITB Frictional Syndrome is an overuse running injury and like all the above running injuries it is caused by repeated loading and irritation of tissue, rather than any specific incident. If you are experiencing ITB Syndrome then in my experience running through it is usually near impossible, due to the intensity of the pain on the upper outside of your knee and the resulting gait change necessary to try and avoid the pain.

What Can You Do To Help Manage ITB Frictional Syndrome?: ITB Syndrome is generally the result of biomechanical failings somewhere along the chain. Assessment by a physiotherapist to diagnose and address any muscular imbalances with reference to tightness and weakness should be your first point of call. However, frequently stretching your thigh muscles and some time on a foam roller massaging out the soft tissues of the hip and thigh including your ITB and hip flexors can certainly make a difference in many runners with some ITB pain.

Prevention Of ITB Frictional Syndrome: Try and mix up your running speeds and terrain, this way your knee will not be going through the exact same movement stride after stride when running. Consider having a sports podiatrist, or appropriately skilled sports physio assess your running gait as step width, stride length and knee angles can play a significant role in the onset and continuation of ITB pain. Running technique changes, coupled with appropriate strengthening exercises for your deep gluteal muscles and hip and pelvis in general can help address common muscle imbalances potentially aggravating the pain. Combining this with regular time on a foam roller keeping things nice and loss loose can all go a long way to abolishing any ITB pain.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on The Five Most Common Running Injuries should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.