Common Running Injuries
Running injuries are common, we discussed some of the most common injuries, the two main factors that can predispose these injuries and how best to manage and prevent these conditions.
Common running injuries include
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runners knee)
- Patellar Tendinopathy (Jumpers knee)
- Shin Splints
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Hamstring and calf strain is also common.
Running injuries tend to creep up on you and without adequate management they can become chronic.
Ally talked to us about the two weaknesses she has noticed which predispose you to developing these injuries.
- Tight hip flexors.
Why would this lead to more injuries?
Ally explained that tight hip flexors will change the way you hold your pelvis, it can cause excess strain and compression through your lower back and it will change your gait; it will shorten your stride and increase the strain on your shins, knees and quads. It will also alter the firing pattern of your glutes due to compensation ultimately leading to poor activation in the glute medius and tension in the TFL and glute max. This can then put strain through your ITB or extra strain on ligamentous structures in your knee that aren’t meant to bear this extra strain.
Tight hip flexors tend to make us walk like ducks (as Ally brilliantly demonstrated) and shortened/tight muscles become weaker muscles. Ultimately weak hip and pelvis muscles will cause a reduction in the stability of your pelvis which can alter the biomechanics of your lower limb.
So tight hip flexors are bad! Strong flexible hip muscles are good!
In summary, we want to stretch our hip flexors and our quads and strengthen our Gluts and our Hamstrings.
How do we strengthen our Gluts and our hamstrings?
- Glute bridges, when performed correctly,
- High heels at the back when running.
- Pes Planus or Flat Feet.
Why would this lead to more injuries?
Ally explained that when we have flat feet we role through the foot when walking or running the arch flattens, the ankle moves inward followed by the knee. This can lead to extra pressure through the plantar fascia, increased strain on the Achilles tendon and also the muscles of the lower leg which can cause shin splints. There is also extra pressure through the inside of the knee, potentially causing runners knee and other knee problems. Because the knee roles in it also increases the stretch on the ITB, this can cause ITB syndrome and further issues from mal-tracking of the patella.
As you can see Flat feet are bad!
If you have flat feet it doesn’t mean you definitely need insoles or new shoes or new feet! Sometimes it’s because the muscles of our feet and legs aren’t strong enough or the ankles are too stiff to allow correct movement. Strengthening and stretching our calves and feet will help prevent this!
If your shoes are disintegrating however, get new shoes! Get comfortable shoes that feel good when you run.
Our Top Gadgets!!
- Spiky ball: use this to loosen off your plantar fascia, use it to mobilise all the joints of your feet and if you’re feeling mean you can use it to get into any bits of tight muscle.
- Wobble cushion: use this to help regain balance and proprioception, these are two very important points in injury prevention that are often overlooked; they are particularly important if you run off road or if you have had a previous ankle injury. Use the wobble cushion to balance on, you can use it to do any exercise that you would normally do on the ground. Single leg squats are a great one.
- Foam roller: ideal to maintain good muscle tone between massage appointments. Roll through all the muscles in the legs, side plank with bent knees for your ITB and you can also trigger point your glutes sitting on the foam roller in a glute stretch position. If used gently, a foam roller is nice to roll up and down the spine or just lie on top of it (perpendicular to the spine) to free up those stiff, grumpy backs.
- Bodyweight: Gadgets are great and can be very useful. However, for stretching and strengthening exercises your bodyweight is all you need! Youtube is great to find videos showing you how to stretch or strengthen a particular area. Simple exercises are often best. As with anything build up slowly and if it’s really hurting stop and seek help!
Lauren Manning BSC Hons Ost
Ally Gurney BSC Hons sports therapy and rehabilitation.