Prevention is better than cure for these common running injuries, writes Vhi's GP and clinical specialist Dr May
So you’re up and running (or walking as the case may be) – well done, there are so many benefits associated with exercising and having a goal such as participating in the 2016 Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon is a great way of keeping yourself motivated.
Increased physical activity does bring with it the risk of minor injuries but by taking a few precautions and being aware of the common types of injuries you might encounter, I’m hoping you can stay fighting fit all the way to race day!
Sports injuries tend to fall into two types:
- Sudden injuries, such as sprains, as a result of a sudden impact or an awkward movement.
- Gradual injuries as a result of overusing a particular part of your body, combined with poor technique question. They can also occur when you don’t allow your body to fully recover from the stresses and strains of training sessions
Some common sports injuries are as follows:
1. Muscle Pull/Cramp - this can happen to almost any muscle in the body. While it can be hard to avoid this, your best approach is to stretch well and regularly, before and after training sessions and to build up your activity levels gradually as well as keeping hydrated throughout the day.
2. Runner’s Knee - this is caused by the kneecap being misaligned, leading to it pulling to one side and rubbing on the other, causing cartilage to wear out. Fluid then builds up, causing swelling in the affected knee. Treatment involves strengthening the quad muscles, and soft tissue massage.
3. Shin Splints – these cause pain in the muscles near the shin bones (front part of your lower legs) and can be as a result of a new training programme, switching shoe types, training on harder surfaces or increased speed when running.
4. Achilles Tendonitis - inflammation of the tendon at the back of the ankle, usually due to overuse. Treatment is to minimise running or training until it feels better and to ice the tendon several times a day. If your pain is severe and occurs suddenly, please stop exercising and seek medical advice promptly as you may have the Achilles tendon tear.
5. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) - this is caused by rubbing of the iliotibial band on the side of the femur (thigh bone) and symptoms can range from a stinging feeling just above the knee to swelling. This can occur if you increase your distance too quickly and should be treated by resting for a few days and reducing your distance training for a week.
6. Stress Fracture- unlike a broken bone that happens as the result of a slip or fall, stress fractures develop as a result of cumulative strain on the bone. Runners most often have stress fractures in the shin bones, feet or heels. This injury is serious and it happens you need to avoid all exercise until it is fully healed.
All of these injuries will require assessment by a medical professional and you are well advised to consult your general practitioner if you have any symptoms.
It’s very important that no matter what injuries you may have, you should resist the urge to train through the pain, and should always consult a medical professional if pain persists.
There is no point taking chances with your future health!