Running is a “simple” form of exercise. You don’t need any special equipment, you just go out and run, right? After buying two new pairs of running shoes, new running clothes, race entry fees, a fancy new Garmin/FitBit, and a new water bottle, let me tell you that running is not necessarily a cheap/easy hobby! Runners also face the pressure of a race deadline and feel the need to squeeze all of their training in before race day. The “couch to 5K” program lays out exactly what you need to do, on the day you need to do it, so just follow the program, right? Well, what if it is raining one day, or too hot? What if you are feeling under the weather? What if you are just starting running, when they say “easy day”, do you know what that means? New runners especially are at increased risk for injury.
Common Running Injuries
Runners face a variety of overuse type injuries; in fact, overuse injuries account for 50-75% of all running related injuries. Common running injuries include:
- Runner’s knee/patellofemoral syndrome
- Patellar tendonitis
- Stress fractures
- Achilles’ tendinitis/Achilles’ tendinopathy
- Shin splints
- Plantar fasciitis
- IT band syndrome
- Muscle strains- hamstring strains, groin pulls, gastrocnemius strains, etc.
- Ankle sprains
- Temperature related injuries – heat exhaustion, heat stroke, sunburn, hypothermia, etc.
- Chronic exertional compartment syndrome
- Hip bursitis
Why Do Runners Get Injured?
Simply put, common causes of these overuse injuries are structural imbalances and training progression mistakes. Structural imbalances can include pelvic alignment issues, myofascial restrictions, muscle weakness in certain groups, and biomechanical issues including improper running form and shoe wear. Common training progression mistakes include increasing mileage by too much volume and increasing speed when the body is not ready. Cross-training is also very important to help focus on strength and flexibility.
While doing my research for this article, one of the running websites suggested these treatments for running injuries; rest, ice, compression, elevation, stretching, and pain relievers… I could not believe my eyes! What if someone saw that article and decided to treat their problem just with that? By focusing on only the symptoms, you are missing the actual problem!
Physical therapy is vital to help correct the underlying problem and does not focus on only the symptoms. Our hands-on approach allows us to feel the underlying structural issues, identify specific muscle weakness, and monitor running form to allow patients to get back on their feet and out on their runs much more quickly.
Treatments in physical therapy might focus on correcting pelvic alignment, releasing myofascial restrictions, decreasing muscle tightness and trigger points, increasing flexibility, increasing core/hip strength, and correcting running form. Your physical therapist might also look at your foot structure and offer suggestions for custom orthotics or offer advice for good running shoes.
Some basic ideas to help decrease your risk for injury are to first and foremost, listen to your body. Do not push your body past its limits. Create a running plan with gradual increases in mileage and speed work. Give yourself time to cross-train including activities like biking, yoga, weight training, aqua jogging, and swimming. Give yourself rest days to recover. Be aware of weather conditions and dress appropriately with layers. Stay hydrated! Warm-up and stretch before and after runs. Be shoe smart and mix up your running shoes when needed. Staying in the same pair can cause blisters and studies have shown that runners that have more than one running shoe actually have a decreased risk for injury. Run wisely and be safe out there! Please contact us with any questions by calling (740) 549-7041 or by visiting our website.