There is nothing like the summer to motivate us to want to get fit, and it is often the time that people try jogging for the first time. Running is an accessible sport that does not require an expensive outlay, and can promote great health benefit. There are a lot of online resources that can support safe running, but it’s important to recognise symptoms that might suggest injury or strain.
It’s a fact that the quest for fitness can result in injury, most often when attention is not paid to preparing for exercise. It is important to understand that you need to let your body rest, and whilst many runners will experience the odd aches and pains, it is vital to be aware of signs that may suggest something more than the odd niggle.
Here at the Back Room Chiropractic we have compiled a list of common issues and complaints that can be associated with running.
Runner’s knee is a collective term encompassing a number of conditions that cause pain to the patella (or kneecap). Although running can be a causative factor, any repetitive activity that strains the joint can cause the same symptoms. These could includes activities that involve long periods of sitting, stair climbing, or can be cause by from weakened muscle areas; including the quadriceps ( thigh) , hips and gluteals ( buttock).
This condition may cause you to feel an aching pain around the knee or behind the patella, notably at the point where the joint meets the femur (thigh bone). The pain is often dull, but may be sharp or severe. As with a lot of strain injuries the first most important course of action is listed below:
Rest the joint
Ice packs may ease inflammation and any swelling
Compression supporting the joint with an elasticated bandage may reduce strain. Take care that the support is not so tight as to cause swelling
Elevation if the knee pain is associated with swelling, keeping the foot elevated above the knee for periods of time may help to relieve this
It is important to hold back on running for a few rest days to allow the knee to recover. It may be of benefit to introduce some low impact sport (such as swimming) for a period of time.
The Achilles tendon is the thick band of tendon that you can feel at the back of the ankle. This connects the back of the heel to the two major calf muscles. The tendon can commonly become inflamed if overused. This can often be seen in runners who have suddenly increased the amount or intensity of running activity.
Look out for pain and swelling in the Achilles tendon area. If you feel this happening, it is important to stop running to allow the tendon to rest and settle. Ice will also help. It is important to make sure your footwear has appropriate support. Calf strengthening and stretching is important as it helps support the area and keep the Achilles tendon supple.
It is important to seek help early on if your symptoms persist, as chronic tendonitis can be difficult to manage. The worst case scenario to avoid is a rupture of the Achilles tendon as this will not heal without intervention
The term ‘hamstrings’ can refer to the three muscles that make up the posterior thigh muscles, or to the tendons that attach these muscles to the bone.
We don’t tend to use these muscles much in everyday walking activity but they are used a lot in running. Issues arise when muscles are weakened or imbalanced, for example when your quadriceps (thigh muscles) overpower your hamstrings. The hamstrings can be injured by strain, or in more severe cases can be due to a muscle or tendon tear. Pain can often feel sudden and come on almost immediately.
Again, rest and ice are very important in aiding recovery. Depending on the degree of injury it can take anything from a couple of weeks, to 6 months to recover. It’s important to seek advice if symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks.
The plantar fascia is a thick layer of fibrous tissue that runs along the underside of the foot and connects the heel bones to the toes. Plantar fasciitis can commonly occur in runners (though it can be occupational: the condition was once known as Policeman’s’ heel as it was seen in policemen who would patrol their patch on foot).
The plantar fascia becomes inflammed, contracted and thickened. This makes it difficult to walk and run.
The condition can be helped by a period of rest. Stretching the feet and plantar fascia is beneficial as is applying ice the area. Adequate support from footwear is an important consideration, and it is worth taking advice on orthotic inserts.
This is pain felt down the front of the lower legs that is most commonly caused by exercise. It is a condition that is very commonly seen in new runners. or those who have suddenly increased their running activity. It is thought that suddenly doing too much exercise, too quickly can cause inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the shins.
The condition is normally self-limiting. It can be avoided by ensuring you build up running activity gradually and by making sure you have appropriate support from your footwear. Make sure you take advice when buying running trainers, but it is really important to remember that good trainers do not have to be expensive
A final word must go to the importance of warming up and cooling down after exercise. Most sporting injuries occur when preparation before, or stretching after activity has not been adequate.
We hope your running experience is always positive, but if you experience any of the problems we have discussed, we’re happy to help get you back on track