Running Injuries and How to Prevent Them

June 6, 2019

Running is more popular than ever before. In fact the latest figures outline that there is 49.43% worldwide growth in Marathon running between 2008 and 2018. We are all aware of the various health benefits from running, including lower resting heart rates, decreased blood pressure and improved mood. However, like any sport there is a downside with the risk of injury. More specifically due to the repetitive component and higher volume of training loads, 17.8% of novice runners and 7.7% of recreational runners were injured per 1000 hours of running – Videbaek et al (2015) Incidence of Running-Related Injuries per 1000h of running in Different Types of Runners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. 

Common things that runners present with at ESP 

–     Calf pain

–       Achilles tendon pain

–       Heel pain (Plantar Fasciitis)

–       Shin pain (Shin Splints)

–       Knee pain (Runners Knee)

–       Hip pain

–       Lower back pain or stiffness

Certainly we see running related injuries in our clinics at ESP, and the one thing that they all have in common is that the runner is frustrated that they can’t run like they want to! So what can you do to reduce them from happening? 

The immediate answer to this is that we can’t prevent all injuries from happening. Instead we must accept that if we are pushing to increase our running distances or break our previous times then the risk of encountering an injury is always going to be there.

How to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Plan your training schedule
    • By scheduling your running volume you can taper your running mileage and plan in reload recovery weeks so that your body can repair and re-compensate.
  • Hire a running coach
    • Take the guess work out of it and hire someone to be accountable to. A good running coach can make your running technique more efficient as well as plan your training cycle.
  • Stretch and perform mobility drills
    • Running training can leave us tight and reduce joint range at the hips and ankle which are designed to have excellent range of motion. Stretching these regions can improve movement efficiency.
  • Eat well
    • You need the right amount of calories and macronutrients to perform optimally.
  • Drink plenty of fluids
    • We all know the ill effects of dehydration so aim to drink 250-500ml of fluid 15 to 30 minutes before running, and aim to drink 100-200ml of fluid every 15 minutes that you run. After finishing your running make sure to drink over 500ml of fluid. 
  • Sleep 
    • This one is another obvious but often neglected element that can have an impact on injury prevalence. Indeed adolescent athletes who slept 8 hours or more hours each night were 68% less likely to be injured than this who slept less – Milewski et al (2014) Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes.
  • Strength train 
    • Performing strength and conditioning training for your core and lower limb musculature including your foot strength and mobility can have a significant positive impact on performance

Most musculoskeletal injuries are self-limiting by nature which means that they will get better in time if you are sensible with your recovery. However in those cases where you want to get better quicker or you are concerned that an injury is deteriorating or not getting better then why not come and see us for a physiotherapy screening.

What should I do if I’m in pain? 

At ESP we screen all our runners to assess what’s tight, stiff or weak. Because when you increase your training mileage or “load” slight problems or niggles can turn into bigger injuries which could stop you from running for a sustained period.  

Once we establish the source of the pain then we work with you to design a treatment and conditioning program to help reduce pain and improve your performance. Commonly runners can be quite weak around the hips and feet so we strength test to establish weakness in the chain. Common areas for us to work on with runners are hip strength, foot mobility, hamstring strength, foot strength/control and calf endurance.

Exercises that you can use to improve your running

  • Calf/  Achilles stretch
  • Hamstring mobility
  • Lower back mobility
  • Calf raises
  • Glutes/ Hamstring bridges

If you want to identify some of the issues you have and resolve them to become a better runner then call us on 01324 227 370 and book your own running screening and personalised program design. 

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