Running Injury Advice

Unfortunately, most runners novice or experienced will experience injury/pain during their training. An injury does not necessarily mean that you have to stop training/running but by recognising the symptoms and seeking early expert advice will minimize injury time and prevent recurrence.

 It is recommended that you seek advice from a chartered physiotherapist or sports physician who is experienced in the treatment of running injuries.

Common injuries associated with running:

Achilles Tendonopathy

irritated-tendonAchilles Tendonopathy is commonly known as Achilles Tendonitis. Achilles Tendonopathy is characterised by degeneration of the Achilles tendon (situated above the heel to form the lower part of the calf muscles). Achilles Tendonopathy is a breakdown of the collagen fibres within the Achilles Tendon, with small, focal lesions within the tendon.

Symptoms

  • Mild pain after exercise or running that gradually gets worse
  • Localised pain along the tendon during or a few hours after running, which may be quite severe
  • Localised tenderness of the tendon about 3cm above the point where it joins the heel bone, especially first thing in the morning
  • Stiffness of the lower leg, especially first thing in the morning.
  • Swelling or thickening around the tendon

Treatment

The severity of Achilles Tendonopathy can vary, a mild ache when running can usually be controlled with stretching of the calf muscles, if your tendon is painful not only when running but also when at rest, you should stop running and seek advice use R.I.C.E. to control the pain.

The condition is usually brought on through overuse; it is likely to be secondary to overtraining, inadequate footwear or poor flexibility. Your sports physician or physiotherapist will be able to identify potential causes and help you rectify these problems.

Shin Splints

Shin-splints imageThe term “Shinsplints” can cover a variety of pathologies that cause pain along the front of the lower leg. Usually they result from overuse on tendons due to tired or inflexible calf muscles. Overpronation aggravates this problem, as can running on hard surfaces, such as concrete; and running in stiff shoes.

Beginners are the most susceptible to shinsplints for a variety of reasons, but the most common is that they’re using leg muscles that haven’t been stressed in the same way before. Another common cause of shinsplints among beginners is poor choice of running shoes. Runners who have started running after long layoffs are also susceptible to shinsplints because they often increase their mileage too quickly.

Symptoms

  • Aching/throbbing or tenderness along the inside of the shin
  • Pain when you press on the shin which may be inflamed
  • Pain most severe at the start of a run, but can often ease during a run

Treatment

Early signs of shin pain can be treated initially with calf stretching and massage. R.I.C.E. is helpful to control the symptoms.

As the cause of the problem is likely to be secondary to overuse, poor/inadequate footwear or poor flexibility you will need to seek advice from a sports physician or physiotherapist who will be able to identify potential causes and help you rectify these problems.

ITB friction syndrome

friction imageThe illiotibial band (ITB) is a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running. The continual rubbing of the band over the lateral femur, combined with the repeat bending and straightening of the knee during running can cause the area to become inflamed.

Symptoms

  • Dull aching or burning sensation on the outside of the knee during activity
  • Sharp stabbing pain on the outside of the knee during activity
  • The pain may be localized, but generally radiates around the outside of the knee and/or up the outside of the thigh
  • Pain typically starts as minor discomfort and worsens progressively
  • Snapping, creaking, or popping may be present when the knee is bent and then straightened
  • There is usually no swelling
  • Worse when going downstairs or downhill

Treatment

Massage/release of the ITB will help to improve this problem. You can use a foam roller to achieve this effect at home.

As the cause of the problem is likely to be secondary to overuse, poor/inadequate footwear or poor flexibility you will need to seek advice from a sports physician or physiotherapist who will be able to identify potential causes and help you rectify these problems.

Plantar fasciitis

plantar-fasciitis imagePlantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia or arch tendon of the foot. It is an overuse injury causing heel pain which may radiate forward into the foot.

Symptoms

• Heel pain, under the heel and usually on the inside
• there may also be pain along the outside border of the heel due to the offloading the painful side of the heel by walking on the outside border of the foot
• Pain is usually worse first thing in the morning eases with movement, but can get worse again during the day especially if walking a lot

Treatment

As with many other running injuries, treatment is based on identification of causative factors and implementing strategies to address this.

You can use a plastic bottle filled with water and frozen to roll through the arch of the foot, the ice will help to ease that pain and rolling the sole of the foot will help to stretch the plantar fascia.

Patellofemoral Pain

patellofemoral imagePoor kneecap tracking is believed to be the main cause this condition. The kneecap (patella) slides over a groove on the thighbone (femur) as your knee bends and straightens. If, for example, the front thigh muscles (quadriceps) are weak or imbalanced, the resulting muscle imbalance can pull the kneecap to the left or right of the groove, causing pressure, friction, and irritation to the cartilage on the undersurface of the kneecap when the knee is in motion.

Symptoms

  • Pain beneath or on the sides of the kneecap
  • Crepitus (grinding noise), as the rough cartilage rubs against cartilage when the knee is bent.
  • Pain is most severe after hill running
  • Swelling of the knee

Treatment

Runners knee is without exception related to biomechanics (the relationship between your joints muscles and activity).

Taping, and R.I.C.E. will help to reduce the pain but it is important to get advice regarding identification of the causative factors.

Hannah Payne
About the author

Hannah developed a passion for fitness from a very young age which led her to compete in a wide range of sports including netball and athletics, where she trained and competed for several years. She graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2009 with a Degree in Health, Exercise & Nutrition, during which she gained experience in the fitness testing of elite athletes including Cyclists and Triathletes.

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