Runner’s Injuries


A Snapshot of Running Injury Rates

Running is one of the most natural forms of exercise that we have an innate drive and ability to partake in.  Statistics shown that recreational running and people participating in 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons, to Full Marathons are on the rise as you can see on this graph below.
2009 Running Statistic GraphGraph shown on http://www.runningusa.org

Now it’s evident that the trend of running is on the rise, however the rate of running injuries remains alarmingly high.  A recent runnersworld.com poll revealed that 66 percent of respondents had suffered an injury in 2009.  If you multiply the figures of the runners in the graph above by 66%, that calculates out to roughly 6,791,400 estimated injuries in 2009.  That statistic is much too high, and the purpose of this website is to help our running community reduce that number through education, self care, and resources.

Running Injury types

Table 3: Self-Reported Running-Related Injuries in Last 12 Months
Blisters 30.9%
Knees 22.7%
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB) 15.6%
Plantar Fasciitis 14.0%
Shin Splints 12.7%
Hamstring 12.3%
Foot 12.0%
Hips 11.9%
Low Back 10.4%

http://www.runningusa.org/node/57770#57852

Foot Pain

Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia runs from the heel, under the soles of the foot and acts to support the arch of the foot. PF is a common overuse injury in runners and walkers….more

Neuromas

Leg Pain

Shin Splints
Shin splints is a common name for pain at the front of the lower leg, usually to the inside of the protruding Tibia (shin bone)….more

Anterior Compartment Syndrome
Pain and swelling during exercise on the front of the lower leg, on the outside of the shin bone….more

Achilles Tendinitis
The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles Gastrocnemius and Soleus to the heel. This can become inflamed through overuse and biomechanical problems….more

Knee Pain

Runners Knee (Iliotibial band syndrome)
The IT band is a thick, fibrous band of fascia which runs down the outside of the thigh and inserts just below the knee. If this band becomes tight it can rub against the outside of the knee causing pain and inflammation….more

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Patellofemoral pain is non-descript knee pain which gradually appears. It is often worse when running or walking downhill or downstairs….more

Popliteal Pain (bakers cyst)

Upper Leg Pain

Quadricep Strain

Hamstring Strain

Hip and Lumbosacral Pain

Bursitis

Snapping Hip
Snapping hip is characterised by a snapping or popping feeling on the outside or front of the hip whilst running which is not normally painful….more

Other Injuries

Stress Fractures
Stress fractures are common amongst runners, in the femur (thigh), Tibia (shin) and feet. They are due to the repetitive impact and contraction of the muscles attached to them

Ankle Sprain – Sprained ankle explained – a common injury when running over potholes in the road!

Toe/Foot Cramping

Blisters

headaches and neck pain


Why do Running Injuries Occur

The body works on a closed chain system when running i.e. when the foot is in contact with the ground, the forces and mechanics are transmitted along the leg to the spine. This is repeated every step and means if anywhere along this chain is out of line then potential injuries can happen.
Intrinsic factors

Intrinsic factors relate to the body itself. They are factors from inside the body rather than outside injury risk factors. Everybody has their own individual mechanics, some better than others. Some break down more than others. Everyone has their own unique threshold of injury.

What can go wrong?

If there is a biomechanical abnormality anywhere along the chain from the feet up, then injuries can occur. The most common problem is feet that collapse and overpronate causing the leg to turn in and pressure on the achilles, shin, knee, hip and spine. If you over pronate then you need stability trainers or running shoes to support the foot. In extreme cases where the runner is injury prone, orthotics may be prescribed.

Most specialist running shops will be able to look at your feet and tell you what foot type you are. Squinting patella and hips and knees that turn in are also common problems especially in women. Again this means these areas and those above and below are placed under extra strain, leading to injuries.

A lot of biomechanical problems can be corrected using a rehabilitation program. For example, knees that fall in (giving a knock-kneed appearance) are usually the result of weak hip abductor muscles which would usually act to pull the thigh and so knee outwards. Tight hip flexors are also a very common problem with runners as the hip flexors are repeatedly contracted and shortened. I would advise all runners to include a simple hip flexor stretch in their warm up:

Extrinsic factors

Before training for any running event and even throughout your training (especially if you feel a niggly injury building), you should be asking yourself the following questions

Running shoes

Have they worn out?
Are they the correct type?
Are you wearing racing shoes for slow mileage?
Do you pronate and have you stable trainers? If you have rigid foot then you need a pair with good cushioning.

All these factors need addressing. To tell if a shoe has worn initially look at its sole, if this is worn out then you definitely need a new pair as the upper body wears first! Do they twist too easily is another sign they may be worn.

Training

Do you perform a warm-up prior to training? (The answer should be yes!)
Have you been increasing your training too quickly? The rule of thumb is a 10% increase in mileage per week.
Are you running on a different surface to usual? Concrete pavements and roads offer very little shock absorption
Are you doing a more hilly route than usual? running up and down hills alters your biomechanics

Its a good idea to keep a training diary so you can look back and see what may have changed in your training.

Warm-up

Some people swear by a warm-up, others don’t bother. However, while the jury is still out on the effectiveness of stretching in preventing injuries, I am firmly in the camp which is singing the virtues of stretching before and after exercise.

A warm-up should ideally consist of a gentle pulse raiser, such as fast walking, cycling or skipping. After 5-10 minutes of this, you should commence your stretches. The most important areas to stretch for runners are the calf, hamstrings, groin, quadriceps and buttocks. Hold your stretches for 20-30 seconds each.

More recently, active stretches have been introduced as the warm-up technique of choice. These involve stretching the muscles through movement, rather than holding a static position. For example, walking lunges, heels to bums jogging and cariocas can be used.

Core strength

If the central part of the body is not strong then you will be more susceptible to injuries especially when you become tired at the end of a run.
Make sure you do some abdominal exercises and glut strengthening. Try and get your club to organise a circuit session, include all the basic exercises like squats, lunges and calf raises.
You can find examples of core training exercises, from beginners to advanced…here

Nutrition

The old adage that you are what you eat is still true. You wouldn’t’t put diesel in a petrol car!
Eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of carbs following training and protein to repair muscle.
It is also vitally important to stay hydrated before and after training. Try an electrolyte drink after to replace lost salt