All Runners at some stage will experience an injury, whether the novice building up to their first 10K or the experienced marathon runner.
by Orla Magorrian – Head Physiotherapist at Functional Training Ireland
Injuries fall into two categories:
Traumatic Injuries and Overload injuries.
Traumatic injuries are a part of the body that undergoes a sudden force in a direction it should not move in which results in anatomical structures getting damaged or at worst, ruptured or fractured.
For example, the soccer player who twists his knee and ruptures major ligaments.
Overload injuries are where certain parts of the movement chain (your whole leg is a ‘chain’) take more pressure during a movement than what they are able to tolerate and therefore become inflamed and painful.
As running is a straight -line activity, most injuries that occur are due to overload as opposed to trauma (unless a runner trips and falls!).
Common structures that can get injured are the Ilio-Tibial Band (ITB) and the lower leg- Shin Splints.
ITB – Knee Pain
The ITB is a collagen strap that starts at the lateral (outside) part of your hip and travels down the outside of the leg, and inserts below the knee joint. Its role is to stabilise the hip as you place weight from one foot to the other- your pelvis moves in a sideways direction.
It gets overloaded if muscles around the hip do not stabilise the area as much as they should. The ITB does not have a high component of elastic tissue therefore it cannot be stretched!
The best way to recover from any overload injury is to offload the painful structure. If the hip muscles (glutes) begin to work harder, this will then release the ITB and free it up from structures around it (quads and hamstrings). Using a foam roller is a good way to do this.
Shin Splints, is a generalised term used when someone is having severe pain in the front of the lower leg.
During running, when you heel strike, forces travel up the leg in a vertical line. If a runner has excessive pronation of the foot (were the arch collapses) it can result in the forces hitting the inside part of the shin bone as opposed to going up the centre of the lower leg. If runners have very flat feet they can be more prone to this, as well as runners whose hip stabilisers are not working, which results in the knee falling inwards.
The extra force hitting onto the inside border of the tibia (shin bone) cause an inflammatory reaction in the lining of the bone and it becomes inflamed and painful. Over time, if the inflammation builds-up it can cause tiny cracks to form on the surface of the bone.
These cracks are what form stress fractures and can take a long time to recover from. It is important to have good running mechanics.
Working with one of our chartered physiotherapists or massage therapists will really help you avoid or fix these injuries.