Running is a popular form of exercise and is known to significantly improve physical and mental health. It has also been shown to reduce stress, improve heart health and even alleviate the symptoms of depression. As with all sporting activities it has it’s own list of potential injuries the most common being in the knee.
Running injuries can affect anyone, from experienced runners to complete beginners and are usually caused by overtraining, poor foot ware, muscle imbalance or running on an uneven surface.
Runner’s knee can produce pain at the front of the knee underneath the kneecap (patellofemoral joint) and is particularly sore when going up and down stairs. This pain occurs due to poor alignment of the knee cap which is pulling sideways with every stride causing wear and inflammation of the cartilage behind the kneecap.
To help the pain use ice packs and anti-infammatories with regular stretching of the quadriceps. If the problem persists then physiotherapy treatment may be needed to apply cryotherapy and ultra-sound with soft tissue massage of the quadriceps. Imbalance of the quadriceps muscles will need to be assessed to develop an appropriate strengthening regime in order to correct the malalignment of the kneecap.
If this problem is left untreated then it can lead to another knee condition known as Chondramalacia Patellae.
Pain felt below the kneecap at the top of the shin is likely to be Patellar tendonitis which is an overuse injury causing inflammation of the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shin bone. This will also require physiotherapy treatment and possibly a change of foot ware or silicone insoles.
Pain on the outside of the knee coming on a short time into your run may be caused by the Ilio-Tibial band. which runs from the outside of your hip to the outside of the knee. There is also a bursa which is a shock absorbing fluid filled sac between the ilio-tibial band and the knee and when the ITB is too tight this bursa can get irritated and be painful. Treatment includes ice therapy, ultrasound and deep tissue massage with passive stretching of the ITB. A gait assessment will also be required as increased pronation of the forefoot can attribute to ITB band pain.
Other common running injuries
There is actually quite a considerable list of injuries which can be caused by running, all depending on the frequency and length of the run and also on the surface you are running.
Stress fractures of the metatarsals, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, calcaneal spurs and tenosynovitis are more likely to be suffered by the dedicated daily runner or marathon runner.
Acute soft tissue injuries can of course be suffered by anyone but perhaps more likely in the occasional or beginner runner whose musculo-skeletal system has yet to get accustomed to the exercise. These include muscle strains of the hamstrings, calf and quadriceps, ankle and knee ligament strains, arch strains, calcaneal bursitis and achilles tendonitis.
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