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Running injuries

Because of the nature of the sport, running injuries can be frequent and sometimes frustratingly disabling for prolonged periods. Many running injuries result from wearing improper footwear, overtraining, employing a poor running technique, and not warming up or cooling down properly. To avoid running injuries, athletes should pay attention to the above factors as well as preparing their bodies to meet the physical challenges of running.

Some common injuries sustained while running are:

Metatarsalgia

Athletes who run and jump a lot may be susceptible to metatarsalgia, a type of foot injury that manifests itself in pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. Wearing shoes without appropriate soles to help with shock absorption and correct biomechanics for running can lead to this foot injury. Overpronation of the foot (flat foot while running) or a tight, high arch are also causes of metatarsalgia. Pain in the forefoot is most pronounced when the person tries to bear weight or push off. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is helpful followed by physiotherapy for stretching and strengthening exercises and to ensure correct running technique. Orthotics may sometimes be needed to correct poor biomechanics.

Achilles tendinopathy

This is a common, painful condition experienced by runners who exert a lot of stress on the tendon. It is characterised by pain to the back of the heel which increases with exercise and decreases when the exercise stops. Walking may also be painful. If you continue to put pressure on the tendon once it is injured, it may snap and need surgical repair. Therefore the best treatment for Achilles tendinopathy is to rest and ice the injured heel until it is recovered from injury. Rehabilitation is always necessary to stretch and strengthen the calf muscles and ensure correct technique and biomechanics when running is resumed to decrease the chance of re-injury.

The Iliotibial band injury

This is the thick sheath of connective tissue that runs from the hip bone (femur) down the outside of the thigh and attaches to the outside of the shin bone (tibia). It acts to extend (straighten) the leg and abduct the hip (move it sideways). As this band passes over the bony part on the outside of the knee, it can sometimes cause friction which leads to pain. Iliotibial band syndrome is sometimes referred to as Runner's Knee. Major symptoms are a burning sensation on the outside of the knee, or along the entire sheath and worsening pain when the foot strikes the ground. The athlete can rest and apply cold therapy to the knee to reduce pain. A rehabilitation programme of stretching and strengthening and minimising downhill running or eliminating it altogether can bring about positive results. Wearing an orthotic support to reduce overpronation of the feet is often recommended as well as a core muscle group retraining exercise programme to ensure a more stable running posture and technique which takes the load off the iliotibial band.

Shin pain

Shin injuries can be caused by repetitive stress on the shins that manifest with pain and tenderness particularly on the inside of the shin bone. Initially, shin pain may be felt during play but later continues throughout the day. Shin pain can be chronic and can thus sideline an athlete for a long time. Treatment involves rest to allow the injury to heal. Icing and anti-inflammatory medications are also helpful. A physiotherapist will perform a gait analysis to determine if you overpronate (sole of the foot turns outward) or oversupinate (sole turns inward) when you run. Both of these conditions cause problems for runners as the foot does not absorb shock properly during running. Orthotics are recommended in these cases. Physiotherapy treatment of deep tissue massage, joint mobilisation and strengthening and stretching exercises will enable a quicker and safer return to running.

For these and any other type of running injuries, please see us first.


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