When it comes to keeping fit and active, running is one of the most common and easily accessed activities to keep fit. Whether you run marathons, participate in triathlons or just run for fitness, running injuries frequently occur and can get in the way of you achieving your goals. Unfortunately though, overuse running injuries frequently occur. And as physio’s, we often here of patients who regularly run, get an injury, stop running, lose routine and suddenly it’s been months of no running or exercise.
So how do you avoid running injuries? Well there are many things that are important such as a structured running program and keeping strong via an injury prevention program, but if an injury does occur, it’s important to identify it early so as you can best manage it. Here are 4 common running injuries we commonly see to be aware of:
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS)
PFPS is a very common condition where irritation is caused on the under surface of your patella (knee cap) as it slides along your femur. The patella is a floating bone within your quadriceps muscle and relies on the muscles around your knee to maintain that it tracks smoothly in its grooves. When an imbalance of these muscles around your knee occurs, that’s when pain can occur. Pain can be reported either side of your patella but most often starts off as a vague ache underneath the patella. Without management, this condition tends to worsen over time with running.
PFPS is a very treatable condition. Your physio will work with you to allow pain to settle and then look closely at your biomechanics to work out why imbalances have occurred.
The term ‘shin splints’ encompasses a number of types of injuries that affect your tibia (shin bone), but the most common form of pain that people experience and associate with shin splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is an overuse injury which presents as pain along the inside of your tibia, usually about a third to half way up. This pain often starts as a mild ache in either the front or back of your shin, which without rest, often progresses to a stronger shin pain during and after your run. Early identification of MTSS is important as it can quickly become a pain that stops you running and can progress to a stress fracture if not managed.
Some factors that cause MTSS are increasing running loads too quickly, running on hard surfaces, poor foot mechanics, muscle weakness, inadequate footwear and poor running technique. A biomechanical assessment will be important to understand and identify what is causing your symptoms.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that attaches from your heel and runs along the under surface of your foot, playing a role in supporting the natural arch of your foot. When then plantar fascia becomes overloaded, it can result in heel and foot pain, quickly becoming strong enough to stop you running. Symptoms often involve increased pain and stiffness in the morning, pain when running and tenderness on the base of your heel and underneath your foot. A biomechanical assessment, particularly foot assessment, is important to determine why you are getting plantar fascia pain.
ITB Friction syndrome
ITB friction syndrome is an overuse injury that presents as pain on the outside of your knee just above the joint line. Often seen in runners and cyclists, excessive friction between the ITB and femoral epicondyle can be caused due to overuse and poor biomechanics. Symptoms are often described as a sharp or burning pain when running long distances, often worse with stairs and running down hills.
The key take home message with running injuries is to not let them get to the point that you have to stop running. Overuse running injuries tend to get worse the more you run with them, so early identification and appropriate management is essential to keeping you going.
Our physio’s at Restore Function are experienced in assessing, diagnosis and managing running injuries, so if you are experiencing pain running, make an appointment and keep yourself on the track!