Do you dream of being that runner where every step of every mile is 100% pain free? No aches, twinges or lingering soreness from yesterday’s session. Well, you are not alone; research shows 79% of runners get injured at least once a year.
Think of running pains in terms of a spectrum. At one end you have the red zone which includes severe, full-blown injuries that require time off. The other end where you’re on top form, is the green zone. Mild aches that bug you one day and disappear the next sit closer to the green end. Unfortunately, many runners get stuck in the middle, in the not-quite-injured but not-quite-healthy yellow zone. Your ability to stay in the green zone depends on how you react to that first stab of pain. Often a little rest, or reduction in training mileage and intensity, with some treatment, can prevent a lot of time off later. Developing a proactive long-term injury-prevention strategy can help keep you in the green zone.
So, What Causes Running Injuries?
There are a lot of theories as to what causes running injuries. Factors such as leg length discrepancy, flat feet, high arches, knocked knees, bowed legs, lack of stretching are very significant when it comes to running. However, research has shown that 60-80% of injuries are actually caused by training errors.
Runners become injured when they exceed their tissues capacity to tolerate load combined with an inadequate recovery time. Poorly perfused tissues, such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage, are particularly at risk because they adapt more slowly than 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 how quickly this increases, hill and speed training. The old saying of “too much, too soon” is probably quite accurate. 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.
What are The Most Common Injuries to be Aware of?
The most common injury is ‘runners knee’ or patellofemoral pain syndrome and accounts for over 40% of running injuries. This is followed closely by plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinopathy and then ITB (iliotibial band syndrome), shin splints and hamstring strain. These injuries generally need complete rest or at least a reduction in training volume and intensity. Followed by physiotherapy 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. You can find our prevention and treatment guides for the following running injuries at this link: <a href=”https://www.co-kinetic.com/landing/page?user_id=7821&campaign_id=744” target=”_blank”>
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.