Common Running Injuries
Running is one of the most popular ways to stay fit (it’s free and you can do it anytime and anywhere!), however it is also one of the most common sports for causing injuries.
It is thought that at any one time, approximately 25% of all runners are suffering from an injury. The impact of running can be hard on the muscles and joints, with injuries most commonly affecting the hips, knees, ankles and feet, such as shin splints, Achilles tendinitis and runner’s knee.
Overuse injuries such as these tend to have a gradual onset and are therefore often ignored until they become significantly worse. Another mistake runners sometimes make is to completely rest their injury rather than using active recovery to make improvements. The key is having a good understanding of injury avoidance and how to deal with injuries if they do occur.
Tips for Avoiding Running Injuries
• Ensure you have the correct running shoes
It is absolutely vital that you wear the correct type of trainers with the right amount of support for running. Incorrect shoes are the most common cause of injury and yet the easiest to avoid! It is best to visit a specialist running shop where they will assess your running style and suggest the best type of trainers for your foot type and training requirements. A good tip is to buy a new pair of trainers before your old ones are worn out; this way you can wear the new pair in and minimise the difference when you change from the old ones. Also, never run a race in new shoes!
• Increase your training gradually
Introducing anything new should be done gradually, whether this is new shoes, new types of training, running on new surfaces or increasing your distance covered. Our bodies are very good at adapting to change, but only if we give the muscles and joints the right amount of time to respond to an increased workload. It is recommended that distances are increased by no more than 10% each week, which gives the body time to adapt.
• Warm up and cool down
It’s tempting to go straight into doing a run, especially when time is limited, however warming up effectively will significantly help to reduce the risk of injury. Ideally allow 10-15 minutes of warm up with brisk walking or light jogging and stretching exercises, before beginning your run. Likewise, always make sure you take time to cool down and stretch out the muscles you’ve worked. Your Physiotherapist will be able to recommend a programme of suitable stretching exercises.
• Include strength training
Research suggests that including strength training in your workout programme can improve your running style and ability and reduce the risk of injury. Exercises such as overhead lunges and single leg squats are good for strengthening the gluteal muscles and VMO (part of the quadriceps). Core strength is also extremely important for runners, so including a Pilates class in you training can be good for reducing lower back pain and preventing injuries.
• Cross-train and include rest days in your schedule
Variety is a key factor in maximising your running and avoiding injury. Runners who include other sports or classes in their training schedule are less likely to suffer from an injury than those who only run. It also means that if you do get injured, you have alternative ways to exercise without aggravating your symptoms. It is also a good idea to vary the type and length of runs that you do, so as to avoid overloading the same muscles and joints. You can do this by including a mixture of faster, short runs and longer, slower ones, along with altering the surfaces you run on. Try to minimise the time you spend running on roads and pavements as this creates the most amount of force on your body and therefore the greatest risk of injury. Also make sure you include rest days in your schedule to give your body time to recover.
• Listen to your body!
Sometimes you just have to listen to your body and abandon the training schedule. It’s important to recognise when to stop or ease off, even if it means cutting a run short. This is much better than sticking to a distance because of your schedule and then being out injured for weeks afterwards!
• Stay hydrated and eat well
Make sure your body is properly fuelled or you will find that your form starts to suffer and injury is more likely to occur.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
If you are suffering from a running injury, it is vital to determine the cause. One of our experienced Physiotherapists will be able to establish this by discussing your running style and training methods, as well as assessing your joint range, muscle strength and overall flexibility. They will then be able to treat the injury and advise you on how to adapt your training to avoid reoccurrence.
If you would like further advise on treating a running injury or other sports related injuries, please contact one of our experienced Physiotherapists on 01423 884162.