by Davy Kestens in Health + Nutrition

Coping with Running Injuries – What You Should Know

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In the sport of running you will find two types of injuries namely acute trauma; and most common of all – overuse injuries.

Acute trauma injuries happen suddenly and the runner does not have very much control over the occurrence of these types of injuries. Acute trauma injuries include torn ligaments and fractures etc.

There are four most typical reasons why injuries occur while running

  1. Intensification of the quantity and speed of running too fast.
  2. Be short of muscle to sustain the load on certain joints.
  3. Wrong or dilapidated running shoes.
  4. Traumatic injuries.

As mentioned in the beginning, there is not much one can do to prevent traumatic injuries. However with the first three mentioned kinds of injuries -prevention and avoiding them is very much possible.

The most common problem with running injuries is that runners are running too much. Beginner runners need to take extra caution not to run too much initially.

It is imperative to build proper muscle strength at first to keep your hips, legs, shins, and knees in good physical condition; and also runners must make sure to wear the right kind of running shoes.

The general most common symptoms of injuries experienced by runners are:

  1. IT Band Syndrome – Knee pain on the outer side of the knee.
  2. Runner’s Knee – Knee pain on the inside, back or front of the knee.
  3. Stress Fractures – Also known as shin splints. Pain in the lower part of the shin.
  4. Shin Splints – Pain on the inside, outside, front or exactly on the shin.
  5. Plantar Fasciitis - Pain in the foot and heel.

What causes these Symptoms?

  1. IT Band Syndrome
    Runners usually experience this type of pain during the middle or end of a run. IT band syndrome is commonly found amongst runners who run on either only tracks or only unlevelled surfaces.
    The pain from this type of syndrome is located on the outside part of the knee.
  2. Runner’s knee
    In the “runner’s knee” type of injury – the cartilage on the knee cap starts to diminish. When this happens, parts of the cartilage start experiencing to little or too much strain. The result is the deterioration of cartilage on inside of the knee cap.
    As a rule, pain is experienced on the front, back or inside of the knee. It is not uncommon to experience pain when someone with such type of injury sits with legs bent-at-knee for a lengthy period.
  3. Stress fracture
    When too much stress is placed on the bones with too much running or too intense training, tiny fractures come about due to the slow collapse of bone structure. Pain is in particular experienced in the lower leg and the foot.
    Pain will become more severe when you perform weight bearing actions.At first X-rays do not show such tiny fractures. However they start becoming more observable within 14 days of the original injury.
  4. Shin splints
    The most common causes of shin splints are – moving the wrong way while running, not warming up properly, using the wrong or worn out running shoes, fallen arches, muscle exhaustion, and exercising on hard-hitting surfaces.
    Pain is experienced on either the inside or outside of the shin or on the shin itself.
    Shin splints can be prevented by use the good quality shock absorbing running shoes. Other techniques of preventing shin-splint injury include running in the heel-toe landing technique; and practicing stretching of the calf muscles.
  5. Plantar Fasciitis
    Plantar Fasciitis is the result of ripping or stretching of the tissue that connects the base of the foot with the heel.
    Pain is usually experienced at the bottom of the foot in the direction of the heel. It is possible to experience pain in the direction of the ball of the foot as well. To prevent Plantar Fasciitis one can do frequent Achilles tendon and calf stretching.
    It is commonly reported that the affected foot aches during early hours of the day. The pain wears off subsequently, as the day progress and more increased movement in leg takes place.

What about Traumatic Injuries?

Running on an even surface hardly ever results in traumatic injuries such as spraining an ankle. However, with road marathons, cross country marathons and trail running becoming popular, the luring possibility of ankle sprains increase due to increased chances of stumbling into a pot hole or tripping over a stone.

In my opinion, R.I.C.E. technique is the most effective way of dealing with these types of sprains since it provides easy immediate treatment:

  • Rest:
    As soon as you get injured at ankle while running, you must stop running immediately and rest.
  • Ice:
    Ice must be placed on the sprain for approximately 15 minutes at a time. You should put on ice packs repeatedly, with intervals of 15 minutes between each application.
  • Compression:
    Compression should be applied with care to prevent further injury.
  • Elevation:
    The injured foot must be elevated as much and as long as possible to treat and prevent further swelling around the injured area.

Preventing Injuries

The best way to deal with injuries is to do all it might take to prevent them from happening. And it is clear that key to preventing injuries while running is to exercise with moderation.

Simple tips to preventing injuries include:

  • Do not over train
  • Do not try to do too much too soon
  • Get habit of proper warm-up exercises prior to running
  • Gradually increase speed and distance
  • Practice the principle of mixing hard and easy training on a daily and weekly basis
  • Only 10% of distance should be added on a weekly basis
  • Keep a proper diet required for your style of running
  • Set aside a minimum of 2 days of the week that you do not run at all
  • Make sure you give your body enough time to rest and to recuperate
  • Do stretching exercises regularly, especially the calf and hamstring muscles
  • Ensure a proper level of calcium and proteins in the body to keep healthy bones and muscles

A golden rule for dealing with and preventing injuries is to keep in mind that “pain is the warning that something is wrong”.

A wise runner will stop immediately and consult a medical practitioner at the soonest. Stay healthy and fit!
If you have any other methods or tips in preventing the above injuries, please don’t hesitate to comment below.

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