Up to 86% of runners get injured - learn how to be part of the 14% that DON’T!

March 21, 2016

By Dr Simon Tasker (Osteopath)

With contributions by Dr Adam Thomas (Osteopath)

 

 

Over one million Aussies classify themselves as runners. Running is a popular fitness activity because of its health benefits, affordability and convenience. But to some of us, it is therapy.

 

However running can cause injuries, most often due to overtraining. Doing too much, too soon or too frequently. If you run for fun, competition, or like some, for therapy, then these injuries can really affect your life in a multitude of ways.

 

Evidence tells us that up to 86% of competitive runners sustain overuse injuries during any 12-month period. If these stats concern you, or even worse, if you fit one of these injured categories, then jump online and make an appointment to see us. We are experts at making fancy jargon about injuries understandable. Once you’ve made your appointment, don’t forget to bring your most used running shoes for us to examine.

 

These are the absolute basics. Follow our blog as we will be releasing more and more specific vital information prior to this year’s Gold Coast Marathon.

 

Here is a breakdown of the four most common injuries, what they are, how to treat them and most importantly – how to avoid them:

 

1. Runners knee (Patellofemoral syndrome)

Runner’s knee (also known as patellofemoral syndrome) feels like a constant ache underneath the kneecap, which intensifies when exercise increases. It is caused by an irritation of the cartilage on the underside of the patella resulting from weakness in glutes, hips or an over-pronation (roll in) of the foot.

 

Runner’s knee accounts for 40% of injuries experienced when running. It can be attributed by anything from running on uneven surfaces or poor shoe selection to a weakness in the quads or hips.

 

How to treat it:

Firstly, if your knee continues to hurt then don’t run.

 

How an Osteopath can help you:

Greatly increasing knee mobility; increasing flexibility of quadriceps, hamstrings and calves and therefore increasing muscle power when it’s needed; Strengthen quadriceps and glutes; Align your hips, knees, ankles and back to make you run to your full potential.

 

Reduce your mileage, run every other day as long as there is no pain; Run on an incline; Substitute running for cycling for the time being.

 

Avoid:

Running down hills.

 

How to know if you’re ready to run:

Stop:               When pain occurs in or around the knee upon waking which doesn’t resolve throughout the day.

 

Caution:          Twinges early in the run, irritating after sitting for prolonged periods.

 

Tip:                 When running: shorten stride length, land with a bent knee.

 

Run:                Completely pain free even after sitting through a movie or going for a hilly run.

 

 

2. Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis presents itself as a pain just above the heel in the thick band of tissue which attaches the heel bone to the calf muscles (also known as the Achilles tendon). It is an irritation or inflammation of this tendon caused from too much stress on the tissue which can often also present as swelling accompanying the pain at the area.

 

Achilles tendonitis accounts for 11% of injuries experienced when running. It is caused by running with a rapid increase in intensity (with inclines and increasing speed) from normal. Having tight calves also make you more susceptible to injury.

 

How to treat it:

Firstly, stop running. If it is a minor strain then it should heal within a few days, otherwise if you keep running, it could put you out of action for 6 months.

 

How an Osteopath can help you:

Increase knee and ankle mobility; increasing flexibility of calves and hamstrings while reducing tension in these muscles which will lead to a quicker recovery time; Increase movement and mobility of the ankle bones which will reduce tension coming into the Achilles tendon.

 

Avoid:

Running and cycling.

 

How to know if you’re ready to run:

Run:                No pain when walking or when you pinch your calf (starting from the heel and working your way upwards).

 

Stop:               If there is pain or swelling above the heal, or if rising high on your toes causes pain.

 

Caution:          Dull pain around heel which goes away when iced.

 

Tips:                Can swim or pool run as an alternative.

 

Strengthen:    Calves (stand on edge of step and rise up on your feet, then drop your heels down below the step).

 

 

3. Hamstring problems

The hamstrings area is a group of muscles at the back of your thighs which bend the knees and give us power when we run. When these muscles are strained they can lead to pain, bruising and, if not managed, further complications down the track which will stop you from running.

 

Hamstring problems arise from weak muscles being either too short or too long. Short hamstrings are caused from sitting for long periods and lack of stretching. Long hamstrings exist in really flexible people which can leave them vulnerable to damage when put under high intensity, such as sprinting. It can also be caused by muscle imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings.

 

How to treat it:

Firstly, if there is a sudden pull at the back of your leg or pain then stop running.

If a strain has bruising then it will need an extended resting time. If less severe without any bruising then running at a slow pace without any hills or cycling/swimming are good alternatives.

 

How an Osteopath can help you:

Decrease pain and tension in hamstrings; Increasing flexibility of quadriceps, hamstrings and calves and therefore increasing muscle power when it’s needed; Align your hips and knees to allow quicker muscle recovery times and increase the healing process so you can get back to running sooner; Restore muscle length to avoid vulnerabilities; Get you back running sooner.

 

Avoid:

Fast running or any kind of sprinting.

 

How to know if you’re ready to run:

Run:                Pain free when running uphill even after long periods of sitting.

 

Stop:               If there is sharp/sudden pain or any bruising.

 

Caution:          Long term aches or tightness in legs causing you to slow down or  reduce your stride.

 

Stretch:           Hamstrings using a foam roller or touching your toes when standing.

 

Strengthen:    Bodyweight walk (while squatting, slowly walk forwards)

 

 

4. Plantar fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a condition where muscles and ligaments underneath the foot have small tears or inflammation. It usually presents as a sharp, tight, painful sensation at the base of the heel which is worse upon getting out of bed in the morning.

 

Plantar fasciitis accounts for 8% of running related injuries. It can be caused by increasing running mileage too rapidly or too much foot roll in or out (pronation/supination). Major factors causing this to happen are tight hip flexors and weak core muscles.

 

How to treat it:

Stretch frequently and apply ice. This can be done by rolling a golf ball underneath the feet with light pressure for 2-3 minutes at a time, several times throughout the day.

 

How an Osteopath can help you:

Reduce pain in feet and heels; Increasing flexibility of calves and plantar fascia which will decrease recovery time; Reducing tension in the tissues and muscles under the foot; Get you back running sooner; Increase core stability; Reduce tension of hip flexors; Straighten any rotations or twists which can occur in the hips; correct any foot roll in/out. Strengthen calves to prevent reoccurrences.

 

Avoid:

Bad shoes when running. Stretch prior to a run and always stretch after a run.

 

How to know if you’re ready to run:

Run:                Pain free all day and walking barefoot on harder surfaces doesn’t phase you.

 

Stop:               Ongoing pain which does not go away even after you warm up for a run.

 

Caution:          Pain on sole of foot or heel when getting out of bed or during the initial stages of a run.

 

Strengthen:    Core strength: Bodyweight Planking starting small then gradually building up time over weeks.

 

Stretch:           Calves: stand on edge of step and rise up on your feet, then drop your heels down below the step.

 

 

 

If you suffer severe or continuing pain, swelling or loss of motion, seek medical attention from a sports medicine professional such as your Osteopath at Osteopath Central.

 

Call 0425 876 929 or book online with us HERE.

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