It’s only to be expected that when you run regularly, that you are going to end up with some strains, pulls or even more complex body injuries and conditions. The first step to avoid these, particularly the most commonly seen problems is to recognise them, know how to avoid them and recover should they occur.
It would be nice to think that as a runner that you would be able to enjoy getting out, running, challenging yourself, setting a personal best without any issues. We all recognise the pulls, the twinges and the aches though. Sometimes running injuries can be more severe, such as fractures.
Three of the most common running-related injuries are:
More than forty percent of running injuries are knee related. This particular one is referred to as PFPS or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. Pain occurs due to the cartilage located on the flip-side of the kneecap, or patella. Runner’s Knee is aggravated by longer periods of inactivity (namely sitting), long running sessions and when climbing (stairs or hiking). You are more likely to suffer from PFPS if the affected knee carries extra weight and if due to weakness you need to work on firming up hips, quads and glutes especially.
You can run through it, although rest days are advised. Correct your running position and monitor pain during recovery, avoiding hills to start with and gradually work back up to them.
We’re all good at stretching our hamstring muscles before we run but how many of us are as good at listening to them when they start to ache. A pulled hamstring can be very painful and should not be ignored. Pushing through will result in more pain and a longer recovery time. If you have niggles drop your pace, stretch it out or take a break to avoid the issue becoming a real problem. Rehab post-injury involves icing and strengthening exercises, depending on the severity of the pull.
Work to lessen the risk of hamstring injuries by strengthening the muscles, stretching out and not doing too much, too soon.
Another common running injury, Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon that connects up to your two main calf muscles to your heel comes under too much pressure. This pressure or stress causes a tightening of the tendon and irritation.
If you suddenly increase your workload rather than working up to an increased pace/additional running sessions you are more likely to suffer from this type of injury.
This isn’t the type of niggle that you shake off or run through. Achilles tendonitis is painful and needs correct treatment in the form of icing the calf muscles and gradually working up the strength, avoiding pain, with exercises prescribed by a physio or personal trainer; and with patience. There is no quick fix here so if you want to avoid this type of limiting injury you need to be aware of the risks and work on those muscle groups.
These are not the only running-associated injuries but are certainly seen the most often. The key is to listen to your body, to gradually work up in terms of speed and strength (rather than pushing too hard or too fast) and to allow yourself time to recover. Rest days are a key part of your training regime, not a treat. They are there not just to keep you motivated but to give your body a chance to recuperate.
If you have concerns talk to your personal trainer, your GP or physio who will be able to properly assess your injuries, put a plan in place, help you identify why the issue has occurred and put in place safeguard to elevate the risks of re-injury (for example correcting your stride).