Running for Success
Enjoy the benefits of running and avoid the pitfalls with the helpful information in this article.
Running is the most popular and common form of exercise known. Because running transmits forces up to 4 to 5 times the body weight people are susceptible to numerous injuries. Injuries affect approximately 65% of all runners annually. Most running injuries are caused by recurring factors that runners can avoid such as training errors, improper footwear and paying attention to musculoskeletal symptoms. Some common injuries are:
Iliotibial Band Syndrome: The IT Band is a thick fibrous structure that runs along the lateral hip and attaches at the lateral aspect of the knee joint. Characterized by lateral knee pain and inflammation with tenderness noted. Pain starts after 1-2 miles and increases for the duration of the run. Typically caused by overuse and increased mileage, decreased flexibility, poor biomechanics and improper footwear.
Patellofemoral Syndrome: A generalized achy pain behind the knee cap that can feel creaky and noisy. It is an imbalance that causes the patella to “track laterally.” Usually caused by weakness of the glute and quad muscles with tightness of the IT Band, hip flexors and hamstrings. Also poor mechanics such as foot pronation contribute to knee pain. Orthotics may be needed for more structural support.
Shin Splints: Pain along the inner side of the lower leg (“tibia”) caused by repetitive stress. Usually due to imbalances of the calf and shin muscles. Brought on by a quick return to intense training or running on hard surfaces and slopes.
Achilles Tendonitis: Running up hills or increasing mileage drastically can lead to pain and tightness in the calves causing inflammation and irritation along the Achilles tendon at the insertion point of the heel.
Plantar Fasciitis: Inflammation of the connective tissue along the sole of the foot leading to fibrotic scarring usually along the arch or heel. Caused by increased mileage, flat feet or high arches as well as decreased flexibility in the calves and hamstrings.
By following a structured program of proper training, maintaining a balance between strength and flexibility and always keeping efficient running mechanics you can substantially minimize the risk of injury. Some guidelines to follow:
There is a sharp increase in risk of injury running more than 40 miles a week.
Training intensity- Do not increase total mileage by more than 10% per week especially after recovering from an injury.
Change your running shoes every 350-400 miles. This is the most underrated aspect that most people do not pay attention to.
A program of “harder” and “easier” runs during the week helps to avoid overuse injuries.
Over the counter or custom made orthotics can be helpful in providing support and improving mechanics.