High injury rates in the running population is an unfortunate scenario that cannot be ignored. Whether you are an experienced runner or a novice, you may fall into the 70-80% of runners that experience some sort of niggle or pain during their training. What are the most common injuries and why do they happen?
Common running injuries
Running injuries will more frequently affect the lower limb (leg). This can vary between the hip, ankle and more frequently the knee. In people that have recently started running we may see injuries such as shin splints or medial tibial stress syndrome which causes pain at the front of your shin. Irritation near the knee cap (patello-femoral pain) is also very common.
For those that have been running for over a year, we may encounter problems that are more frequently associated with tendons- patellar tendon at the knee, achilles tendon near the heel or even iliotibial band syndrome down the side of the thigh.
Why are running injuries so common?
It is difficult to generalise this answer to every runner out there. Everyone is different and the cause of each individual injury will vary greatly. However, there are some common patterns that as physiotherapists we tend to come across.
Many runners do too much too soon- remember that when you run your lower limb joints are taking on three times your body weight! Gradually increase your mileage to avoid overuse injuries.
Have you recently changed your shoes? Or have you changed your running surface? All these can have an impact on your symptoms.
Finally, it is important to incorporate different exercise in your routine besides running itself. Try strengthening exercises as well as cross training (cycling, swimming, etc) and having at least two rest days per week.
Should I be running with pain?
It is normal to feel muscle soreness after exercising, but if the pain you feel is more intense and potentially injury related, it can be detrimental. Not only can it hinder your running performance but it can also cause more serious injuries elsewhere in the body. In these instances it may be advisable to seek health professional advice to assess your symptoms and treat as able.