Recognizing and Addressing Common Running Injuries
June 1st is Global Running Day. It is also a great day to lace up your runners, grab a friend, co-worker, or your dog and start building up your momentum for the season!
Are you a runner? Or are you thinking of trying out running to see if it is something you like? Running is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and requires minimal equipment, thus making it easy to perform anywhere at anytime. Unfortunately runners are not exempt from injury. Physiotherapy is very beneficial to helping you return to the activity you love as quickly as possible whilst minimizing the chance of re-injury.
Here are some common running injuries. It is a good idea to know them so that you recognize early signs of these injuries which will allow you to receive early intervention.
Runners Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome):
This is a general term given to pain felt around the knee and patella that is felt with running or activity requiring repetitive knee flexion such as descending stairs. Sometimes there is swelling at the knee and sometimes a grinding sensation is felt. Causes may include overuse, muscle weakness especially at the hip and knee, biomechanical problems with the feet, and improper footwear. Your physiotherapist will assess your total body mechanics in order to determine the cause of your injury and treat appropriately.
This pain is usually felt under the heel or on the medial (inside) surface of the heel and arch of the foot. Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning or after sitting for prolonged periods. It is caused by tightening, inflammation and micro-tearing of the tissue that runs along the plantar surface of the foot. Proper biomechanics of the foot and lower leg and proper footwear are key in preventing this common injury. Contrary to popular belief, individuals with high arches are just as prone to this injury as those with low or fallen arches. Treatment by your physiotherapist may include controlling the inflammation, correcting your biomechanics of foot and lower leg and possibly fitting an orthotic to correct your foot mechanics.
Shin splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome):
This is pain felt on the medial (inside) aspect of your shin bone. It is caused by micro-tearing of the muscle tissue at its attachment to the shin bone from overuse or a sudden increase in activity distance and intensity. Proper foot mechanics and footwear are key to preventing this injury. Treatment may include controlling the inflammation, foot assessment, taping to prevent a “pull” of the tissue away from the bone, and orthotics may be necessary.
Pain and/or swelling in the back of the lower leg and heel is felt following “too much too soon” especially if hill training has been added to your running. The achilles is the tendon that attaches two calf muscles to your heel. If it becomes too tight and then irritated, a tendinitis results. Often runners stretch only one of the two calf muscles forgetting that there is another muscle that requires attention also in order to prevent this injury. Calf stretching with the knee both flexed and then extended is required.
IT Band Syndrome (Iliotibial Band Syndrome):
Pain is felt on the outside of your thigh usually at the knee. Its cause is from the IT Band (a band of tissue that runs from your hip to your knee) rubbing on the femur with overuse. If you begin to add more running downhill you may notice this injury more due to instability and weakness at the hip and knee along with tightness of the IT Band. A proper lower extremity assessment by your physiotherapist will ensure the cause of you injury is addressed during treatment.
Be sure to visit your physiotherapist for both prevention and treatment of injuries. For more running education and a run please join us for our free running clinic led by personal trainer, Bonnie Jordan, Mondays from 7 to 8pm. Contact Beaumont Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic at (780)929-5217 for more info.