Running injuries 101
Updated: Sep 6
Running has one of the largest participation rates and now even more people have taken to running with gyms and sports no longer an option. Running is awesome. It has many health benefits and it is convenient. However, running can lead to injury. Up to 70% of recreational and competitive runners sustain an overuse injury during any 12 month period according to Sports Medicine Australia.
Overuse injuries most often occur due to errors in training. It is often too much of something or not being ready. It could be errors in:
training variables - distance, duration, speed or frequency
lack of strength preparation
lack of mobility
inappropriate surfaces or terrain
Many injuries can be avoided with appropriate training and preparation for training.
KNEE PAIN Knee pain is one of the most common running injuries. So common that anterior knee pain is often referred to as 'Runner's Knee'. This is an umbrella term referring to any pain surrounding the knee, but most commonly the patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band (ITB) friction syndrome or patella tendinopathy.
Running is very repetitive. Weakness, tightness, poor biomechanics and loading mechanics, poor training practices all can lead to overloading the knee when running. Often knee pain starts with some discomfort and without management increases to impact normal daily activities. Whilst it is important to understand that running itself is not bad for you knees, you need to be prepared for running and train appropriately to ensure you reduce the risk of injury.
Runner's knee is easily managed with physiotherapy to address the many possible causes. The quicker you get it treated and start managing it, the quicker you will get back to training.
Achilles tendinopathy is another common running related injury. Tendons are fussy little things and do not like big changes in loading. The Achilles is the biggest, strongest tendon in the human body and acts like a spring storing and releasing energy. Tendons react to compressive or tensile overload. Rapid increases in running training load predisposes you to an injury like Achilles tendinopathy.
Morning stiffness and pain is a common symptom of Achilles tendinopathy and pain is local to the tendon. Physiotherapy is very successful in managing tendinopathy. Education is one very important part of the management to ensure you get back to or keep exercising. Specific exercises for your calf and tendon will get you back stronger and quicker.
Heel pain is no fun. It doesn't let you forget about it as it is there every step you take. Heel pain or plantar heel pain can be caused by many different sources, however the most common is plantar fasciitis.
The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot. It absorbs high stresses and strains, so you can imagine the loading that goes through it when you are landing in running or are standing for long periods.
Pain is usually worse in the morning or after prolonged standing or when bare foot. Many patients will have had a sudden increase in their activity levels prior to their heel pain. And there you see it again... another injury that occurs as a result of a sudden increase in activity...hope you are seeing the patter. Do not worry, plantar heel pain is successfully treated with conservative management by your physiotherapist and podiatrist. Team work works best.
GLUTEUS MEDIUS TENDINOPATHY
Running can cause foot pain, knee pain and also hip pain. Gluteus medius tendinopathy is overload of the glute muscle on the outside of the hip. It can be local but can also refer down the leg at times. The pain can be worse at night and upon waking or after sitting. Like the other injuries above, gluteus medius tendinopathy occurs doe to a sudden increase in loading.
Fear not... there are many things you can do now to help the pain and help your recovery.
1. Stop crossing your legs
2. Stand with your weight evenly spread
3. Sleep with a pillow between your legs if you are on your side
4. Ice your hip
5. Strop stretching it.
And see your physiotherapist. Getting started on a strength program targeted at tendinopathy will get you back training.
So the moral of the running story is be prepared and train smart. If you have pain, see your physiotherapist and they will help guide your recovery to get you back sooner and stronger.
As passionate runners, our Physiotherapists, Jessie Mayo and Caz Yii are experienced in assessing and treating running injuries. If you have any running injuries, feel free to reach out to The Movement Workshop Physiotherapy for further information.