Many people start new goals for fitness and health which often include running, but whether you're running for general fitness, as part of cross training for another sport or for a particular running related goal such as a marathon (like crazy me!!), there is always a possibility you may get injured. Nearly every person who participates in any sport will experience an injury at some point, and runners are no exceptions. The good news is that, in most cases, injuries can be treated and with a few tweaks, can often be prevented!
Common causes of running injuries
When we are in clinic, two of the most common reasons runners get injured are down to simple things, such as being too keen and overworking your body, not giving it enough time to heal, and also running with poor technique:
Any level of running is considered to be a high impact form of exercise. It's important not to push too hard at the beginning so as not to overload your body. Gradually increase the distance/speed you're running and allow the body to keep up with the mechanical load you're placing on it. It takes time for the soft tissues (muscles and joints) to adapt to the increased demand when you're building your fitness and too much, too soon can lead to injury.
Correct running technique is a skill that is best learned over time. It's always a good idea to join a local running club where experienced instructors can help you get the best from your body by tweaking your technique. This helps to lessen the stress on your joints, reducing the risk of injury.
Common running injuries
Runners often complain of the following injuries (but remember, your pain could be sue to many things so it's always worth getting a proper consultation with a health care professional to diagnose your individual case):
• Plantar fasciitis - Inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament, located in the sole of the foot
between the toes and heel. This injury is commonly associated with overloading and training on hard surfaces but can also be due to calf muscle issues and ankle problems.
• Runner's knee - Patellofemoral pain syndrome, more commonly known as runner's knee, is often associated with long distance running. It is normally reported as a pain in the centre of the knee directly under the kneecap or slightly to the outside of the knee.
• Patella tendinopathy - Patella tendinopathy, also known as jumper's knee, occurs when damage has happened in the tendon that connects the bottom of the kneecap to the shin. This can be due to many things such as overuse, poor technique and sometimes running longer distances.
• Shin splints - Shin splints are felt as a pain anywhere along the top of, or the inner shin, and can occur for a variety of reasons. If you think you're suffering from shin splints, have you tried loosening your laces on your running shoes?
How can an Osteopath help?
Osteopaths help to treat injuries in a variety of different ways. We always take a holistic approach which simply means we look at the whole body, rather than just focussing on the injury, so we can find out the root cause of the problem which then allows us to help your body perform at its optimal function.
When you visit us in clinic, we will often use a combination of treatment techniques rather than solely focusing on one technique. Our treatments always work on the area you're experiencing difficulties with, but you can also expect us to work on surrounding areas too to ensure everything is functioning as well as it can. Our treatments are patient centric, so our approach will be different for each person to take into account your individual needs.
Some of the osteopathic techniques often used for treating runners include:
• Biomechanical assessment – by assessing a patient's gait and movement we can understand how the musculoskeletal system is affected when you move. This allows us to provide advice on improved technique where necessary.
• Soft-tissue techniques – This can range from myofascial release through to deep pressure
massage to help increase blood flow and to improve the tone of muscles.
• Joint mobilisations - Gentle movements of the joints in their normal directions of movement can help to improve and increase the range a joint can move through.
• Exercises - We always recommend stretches and exercises, as well as advise on running
techniques and training, to help you recover swiftly and effectively. This also helps you to prevent further injuries or reoccurrence of the injury.
If you are experiencing running injuries, or would like advice on avoiding future injuries or improving your technique, please feel free to contact us or book online through the appointments page.