Do you dream of being that runner where every step of every mile is 100% pain free? No aches, no twinges or niggles, no soreness from yesterday’s session. Well, you are not alone; research shows that as many as 79% of runners get injured at least once during the year. That is nearly 8 out of every 10 runners you see at your next race have been or will be injured sometime that year.
Try to think of running pains in terms of scale. At one end you have severe, full-blown injuries, which we’ll name the red zone and includes stress fractures that require time off. The other end, where you’re in top form, is the green zone. Mild, transient aches that annoy you one day and disappear the next sit closer to the green end. Many runners get stuck in the middle, in the not-quite-injured but not-quite-healthy yellow zone.
Your ability to get into the green zone depends largely on how you react to that first stab of pain. It would be beneficial to rest a little, slow down the exercise and maybe receive a massage and rehabilitation advice from a professional until you get back into the green zone. Developing a proactive long-term injury-prevention strategy, such as strength training, stretching, regular massage and foam-rolling can help keep you in the ‘green.’ We can give you all the advice in the world, but it’s you who needs to put it into practice otherwise if you continue with the intensive exercise without any preparation or recovery plan, your sure to run into trouble at some point!
You can find more information and exercise leaflets for injury prevention at this link: http://bit.ly/2Xdjq5Z
So, What Causes Running Injuries?
There are lots of theories as to what causes running injuries but it seems the answer is fairly obvious: running! Research has stated that “running practice is a necessary cause for RRI (Running Related Injury) and, in fact, the only necessary cause.” With running being the dominant risk factor for running injuries what other factors influence risk? Over the years a lot of emphasis has been placed on intrinsic factors like leg length discrepancy, pronation (flat foot), high arches, genu valgus/varum (knock knee or bow legged) and extrinsic factors like ‘special’ running shoes being stability shoes, anti-pronation shoes or lack of stretching. However, recent studies have shown there is no one specific risk factor that has a direct cause-effect relationship with injury rate or injury prevention. Whilst warming up, compression garments, acupuncture and massage have some evidence in reducing injury rates, it is all a little grey and leaves you with a multifactorial buffet of probable contributing causes to running injuries.
One specific factor has been proven though and that is due to runners over exceeding their tissues capacity to tolerate load. Estimates suggest that somewhere between 60 to as much as 80% of running injuries are because of training errors and also inadequate recovery time. Ligaments, tendons and cartilage are particularly at risk because they take longer to adapt then muscles to increased mechanical load.
Factors that affect how much training load a runner can tolerate before injury will also have a role. There are 2 key factors that appear to play a part in this – Body Mass Index (BMI > 25) and history of previous injury, especially in the last 12 months. While high BMI and previous injury may reduce the amount of running your body can manage, strength and conditioning is likely to increase it. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of strength training to reduce injury risk and improve performance. Training error and injury risk share a complex relationship – it may not be that total running mileage on its own is key but it’s when you don’t build up your milage or speed. The saying “too much too soon” hits the nail on the head!
Injury prevention is really a ‘mirror image’ of the causes of an injury. So, if you understand the primary reasons for getting injured then you are heading in the right direction to staying healthy this running season. You can find out more on injury prevention, with recommended exercise leaflets, at the following link http://bit.ly/2Xdjq5Z and we have produced a series of prevention and treatment guides for the 6 most common running injuries which you can download there too.
What are The Most Common Injuries to be Aware of?
Body tissues such as muscles and tendons are continuously stressed and repaired on a daily basis, as a result of both ‘normal’ functional activities and sport. An overuse injury often occurs when a specific tissue fails to repair in the time available, begins to breakdown initially at microscopic level and then over time develops into a true injury. So, that’s why where the pain is, the cause often is not, as the pain you feel initially is usually not where it all began.
40% of running injuries is known to be a condition called ‘runners knee’ or patellofemoral pain syndrome. This is followed closely behind by plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinopathy and then ITB (iliotibial band syndrome), shin splints and hamstring strain. These conditions usually need complete rest or at least a reduction in training volume and intensity, followed by physical therapy to promote tissue healing and mobility. Although these are overuse injuries there is frequently an underlying muscle weakness and/or flexibility issue that needs to be addressed with specific rehabilitation exercises. Follow this link to find more specific information about each of the most common running injuries with specific rehabilitation leaflets for you to use.
You can find our prevention and treatment guides for the following running injuries at this link: http://bit.ly/2Xdjq5Z
- Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)
- Patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee)
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hamstring strains
- Iliotibial band syndrome
While guidance can be given, it is general in its nature, whereas individual complaints may need individual attention. If you do pick up an injury (including ‘tightness’ ‘irritation’ or ‘niggle’) that you’re worried about then we can help, the sooner it’s treated the better.