Running is a very complete sport that brings many benefits for both the body and the mind. It also carries some risks of injury that we must be aware of in order to prevent. Typically, these injuries are caused by over-training or overexertion, as running is a sporting activity in which the joints of the lower limbs are found to support the full weight of the body.
Below, we analyze the five most frequent injuries to runners so that you can learn to identify them and, more importantly, know what to do to prevent them. In addition to general precautions, we also see some specific measures that reduce the risk of injury.
PATELLOFEMORAL SYNDROME (RUNNER’S KNEE)
Patellofemoral Syndrome is a very common injury in sports with repeated knee flexion, such as running. It is also known as a runner’s knee. It accounts for 17% of all running injuries.
It is pain felt in the kneecap area, caused by an increase in tension or an imbalance that causes the kneecap to be misaligned with the joint or unstable. This situation produces greater friction with the femur and, consequently, more pain.
It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the exact spot of pain, but it is widespread and tends to get worse under the following circumstances: running, squatting, walking up or down stairs, and sitting for a long time.
Causes of Patellofemoral Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
As we have mentioned, the factors that can cause this pathology can be linked to increased tension on the knee or to an incorrect alignment of the patella:
- Overexertion (increase in training frequency, duration, and intensity)
- Problems with aligning the legs between the hips and ankles
- Muscle imbalance or weakness, especially in the quadriceps.
Patellofemoral Syndrome (Runner’s Knee) Prevention
To reduce the likelihood of running into the runner’s knee is important.
- Increase the frequency and intensity of training gradually, while respecting the rest days.
- strengthen and stretch the quadriceps, which are the main stabilizers of the patella.
- Check your weight to avoid overloading your knees.
- Use insoles that can help align and stabilize the foot and ankle, relieving tension in the joints.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
While running, pressing your foot into the ground keeps you balanced and shifts the most usually damaged area of your leg, the knee, to something within the hip. This makes it less likely that the IT band will break apart.
It accounts for 8% of runners’ injuries and is a particularly common ailment in cross-country skiers (and cyclists too).
It usually occurs as a general pain in the outer part of the knee , which tends to worsen with exercise and to rise towards the outer thigh. It is possible that when you stop, the pain will disappear. Another feature of the band syndrome is that the pain increases with inclines and when we lower the pace of our running as this increases the contact time of the iliotibial band with the epicondyle.
Causes of iliotibial band syndrome
It is a disease that can have different causes:
- Bad running technique
- Poor stability in the pelvis
- Tension in the fascia due to the varus knee, which bends outward, causes tension in the fascia.
- Little flexibility in the muscles of the lower limbs
- Running on uneven ground makes one leg work harder than the other.
- Travel over long distances or on steep terrain.
Prevention of iliotibial band syndrome
Considering the causes described, the best measures to prevent the onset of bandage syndrome are the following:
- Run at a shorter pace but with more cadence.
- Avoid crossing your feet while running; they should be parallel to each other.
- Strengthen the hip abductor muscles.
- Stretch to stretch the band.
- Avoid long runs on slopes, especially downhill.
Plantar fasciitis is when the muscle tissue connecting the heel bone with the arch and toes becomes inflamed. The origin is not usually found in a specific trauma but in repetitive microtraumas due to routine work or sport . It accounts for 8% of injuries to runners and can also affect sedentary people who spend a lot of time on their feet.
The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is severe pain in the inner heel and sole of the foot during stride. The discomfort is usually most intense in the morning (due to stiffness during the night) and when doing exercises that require more stress on this area.
It is important to start taking action when the first symptoms appear, as plantar fasciitis is highly likely to become acute and movement-limiting if neglected. Inflammation, which is what causes us pain, can be treated in several ways, but the most important thing is to address the cause of the problem and make sure that the tension produced in this area decreases so as not to suffer a relapse when it comes back. to our regular physical activity.
Causes of plantar fasciitis
There are several factors that increase the risk of suffering from plantar fasciitis, although biomechanical causes are the most common:
- Bad running technique
- Flat or excessively arched feet (high instep)
- Deficient attachment of the plantar arch and/or heel
- Excess load on the foot (overtraining, overweight…)
- Weakness in the foot muscles
Prevention of plantar fasciitis
Don’t wait for pain before taking preventive measures to avoid plantar fasciitis It’s best to think about it right away:
- Change the distribution of forces with the use of insoles to relax the fascia area, both in sports and in daily use.
- Train the specific muscles of the ankle and foot and improve the mobility of this area.
- Do a specific stretch of the foot muscles and the Achilles heel.
- Check your body weight.
- Avoid overtraining (run according to your physical condition and never forget to rest between workouts).
- Use appropriate footwear.
INJURIES OF THE MENISCUS
We have two menisci on each knee, C-shaped fibrocartilages that help stabilize the knee joint and act as absorbers, absorbing the impact of blows between the femur and tibia.
Menisci injury is one of the most common knee injuries, especially in activities where the knee rotates strongly: it accounts for 5% of injuries in runners. It causes pain (especially in twisting or rotating the knee), swelling and stiffness, with difficulty in fully extending the knee.
The causes of meniscus tear
The causes are very varied and depend mainly on the age and state of health of the affected person:
- Degenerative cause: with aging the menisci dry out and can break easily
- Traumatic cause : from blow, violent rotation of the knee or sudden hyperextension
- Mechanical cause : due to the malfunction of the knee.
Prevention of meniscus injuries
Meniscus tears are usually unexpected and accidental in nature , making them difficult to predict. However, we can suggest a number of precautions to reduce the risk of injury:
- Strengthen the muscles , especially the quadriceps, to relieve the load on the menisci.
- Use insoles and sports shoes that help us to give greater stability to the legs.
- Improve your stride and running technique by avoiding abrupt movements and abrupt rotations of the knee.
- Always take a few minutes to warm up to avoid injury to the joints and meniscus.
This is inflammation of the tissue membrane that covers the bone and usually occurs on the tibia , with pain on the inside of the leg. The people most frequently affected by this injury are runners and especially sprinters . Tibial periostitis accounts for 5% of injuries in runners.
The pain can begin after a sports injury or overload . It typically starts with low intensity discomfort and gradually builds up. The pain is accentuated by pressing on the inflamed area and improves at rest.
Causes of tibial periostitis
The main causes of tibial periostitis are the following:
- Muscle weakness
- Overexertion , sudden changes in exercise intensity
- Biomechanical defects and other load defects
- Unsuitable footwear.
Prevention of periostitis
In order to reduce the risk of suffering from periostitis we recommend:
- Strengthen muscle tone with specific exercises in the gym.
- Plan your workout correctly and avoid abrupt changes in running length and intensity.
- Use suitable insoles and footwear to promote absorption and stability.
- Do stretching exercises.