Running Injuries

Running puts the body under significant pressure and can contribute to several different types of injury. Some of the most common types of injury are outlined below:

Shin splints

What are shin splints?

Shin splints is a condition, which implies the sensation of pain over the tibia bone at the front of the lower leg.

Causes of shin splints

Shin pain is usually caused by overuse but may also be caused by a sudden increase in physical activity or a stress fracture.

Symptoms of shin splints

The most common symptom of shin splints is pain, which is felt above the tibia bone. The shins may also become swollen and pain may be heightened during physical activity.

Treating shin splints

Generally, shin splints can be treated using a combination of rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. Specific light exercises may also help to improve the condition.

Preventing shin splints

Wearing suitable and supportive footwear may help to prevent shin splints. Athletes should increase training gradually in order to allow the body to get used to the higher level of training. Professional runners should try to combine running with other activities which will maintain cardiovascular fitness but allow the shins time to recover; such activities may include cycling or swimming, for example. Running on a softer surface will also help to prevent the symptoms of shin splints.

Runner’s knees

Runner’s knees, also known as patella-femoral pain, is a condition which is common in long distance runners and refers to the erosion of cartilage beneath the kneecap. Eventually, the cartilage becomes so thin that the kneecap does not move over the cartilage smoothly; this often results in a cracking noise.

Causes of runner’s knees

Runner’s knees can be caused by a number of different activities and conditions; these include overtraining, poor footwear and poor alignment of the kneecap; this becomes altered when the cartilage starts to wear down. The position of the kneecap can also be affected by a lack of strength in the quadriceps muscles.

Symptoms of runner’s knees

Common symptoms include pain and swelling underneath and at the sides of the kneecap. Often when the knee bends, a crunching noise can be heard. Pain usually becomes heightened during physical activity, especially if it involves climbing or running uphill.

Treating runner’s knees

This condition is commonly treated with a combination of rest, light exercises and medication. Ice will also help to reduce inflammation. Exercises should be carried out during recovery but they should not put pressure on the knee; activities such as squatting should not be undertaken. It may be advisable to wear taping on the knee or a knee support to offer extra protection during exercise; surgery should be considered only as a last resort.

Preventing runner’s knee

The most important preventive measures are a thorough warm up and cool down; this will help to get the muscles warm and the joints loose and will reduce the possibility of an injury. It is also extremely important to wear supportive, well fitting footwear. Athletes should allow the knee time to recover between training sessions; this may involve doing an activity which doesn’t put pressure on the knees such as swimming between intensive running sessions.

Achilles tendonitis

What is Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.

Causes of Achilles tendonitis

The main cause of Achilles tendonitis is overuse; this condition is common in long distance runners and athletes who participate in jumping events. Injuries can also occur if physical activity is undertaken without a sufficient warm up and if training is suddenly increased. Other causes include badly fitting and unsupportive footwear and a poor level of general fitness.

Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis

Common symptoms include prolonged mild pain during or after physical activity, stiffness in the leg and inflammation around the tendon.

Treating Achilles tendonitis

Treatment for Achilles tendonitis usually involves a period of rest, anti-inflammatory medication and pain relief. Bandaging may help to support and protect the heel and steroid injections may also be given; this is common in professional sports players. Physiotherapy may be recommended to strengthen the muscles surrounding the tendon and increase movement.

Preventing Achilles tendonitis

Gradually increasing training and allowing recovery time will reduce the possibility of suffering from tendonitis. It is important to wear suitable footwear, which will support the foot and help to prevent injury. Thorough warm ups and cool downs will help to prevent the risk of all injuries.

Stress fractures

Stress fractures in the foot are particularly common in long distance runners as the bones in the foot are constantly under pressure during the running action.

Symptoms of stress fractures

The most obvious symptom of a stress fracture is localised pain, which becomes heightened during or after physical activity. Other symptoms may include swelling and tenderness around the affected bone.

Treating stress fractures

Stress fractures usually heal over time if the affected bone is rested; this should take approximately 6 to 8 weeks. Ice and anti-inflammatory medicines will help to reduce swelling. It may be advisable to use crutches to allow the bone time to heal and prevent any further damage. Recovery should be complete before an athlete starts to train again; training too early can be counter-productive and lead to a longer lay off.

Preventing stress fractures

Allowing plenty of recovery time between intense running sessions will help to reduce the possibility of getting a stress fracture. It may also help to run on softer surfaces, such as grass, and wear supportive footwear with cushioning to protect the foot.

Plantar fasciitis

What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a tissue that runs from the heel to the middle of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue become swollen.

Causes of plantar fasciitis

The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is overuse; this condition is common in people who spend long periods of time on their feet, as well as runners and athletes who participate in jumping events. Often, plantar fasciitis results from a series of minor injuries to the plantar fascia. This condition can also be caused by running on hard surfaces and suddenly increasing the intensity of training sessions.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis

Pain on the underside of the heel is the most common and obvious symptom of plantar fasciitis. There may also be some localised swelling and tenderness. Pain may become heightened when doing activities which stretch the foot, such as standing on tiptoes.

Treating plantar fasciitis

Pain gradually decreases in time even though the actual tissue heals very slowly. Symptoms can usually be eased by resting the foot, using ice and anti-inflammatory medication.

Preventing plantar fasciitis

The risk of suffering from plantar fasciitis can be dramatically reduced by warming up and cooling down thoroughly, wearing supportive footwear and ensuring the foot is rested between physical exercise sessions.

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