Common Running Injuries: A Quick Guide

Are you experiencing any of the following while running?
Pain in the knee❓

Pain on the side of the leg❓

Pain in the Achilles❓

Pain deep in the buttock or in the back of the leg❓

Lower back pain❓

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Chances are that you have one of the following common running injuries:

  • Achilles tendinopathies
  • Patellofemoral syndrome / Runner’s Knee
  • Lower back pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Hamstring strain or tendinopathy
  • ITB Band injuries
  • Shin splint / Stress fracture

While these issues do not require medical attention, in the long term they can be a problem.

Pain is not a bad thing for our body, it is a way to tell us when something needs to be taken care of.

However, there is a difference between acute and chronic symptoms and sometimes, chronic (long term) issues are more challenging to overcome compared with acute (short-term) pain.

I always advise my family and friends to get checked when symptoms persist for more than two weeks.

Common injuries for runners: a closer look

Everybody is different and therefore everybody’s problems are different, so it is important to have the right plan to move forward with any type of condition.

Let’s see what the common issues are for runners.

1. ACHILLES TENDINOPATHIES
If you have this condition, then you will probably feel your Achilles hurting, or feeling sore during or after a run.

Every day you may have that sinking feeling that something is wrong and you wonder if you should stop running or not.

Am I right? Tendinopathies can be stubborn, painful and depressing.

I previously covered an article about tendon pain, so I won’t expand on the subject here. But with all honesty and to make it simpler for you, if you are having tendon pain, it means that you have been running too much without sufficient strengthening or supplementary exercises.

The causes of tendinopathy are all related to excessive stress being transmitted through your tendon due to weak calf muscles, poor ankle range of motion and excessive pronation of your foot (1).

2. HAMSTRING TENDINOPATHY
This is similar to the Achilles but the problem is in a different location.

You can experience radiating pain, stiffness, and tightness going up your back, deep buttock pain or pain in the back of your leg.

And exactly like the Achilles tendinopathy, hamstring tendons are not easy to heal and need a specific program to help you recover as fast as possible.

3. HAMSTRING STRAIN
Hamstring strain can mimic a tendinopathy, and is a common injury seen in soccer players, rugby players and runners.

The difference to tendinopathy however, is that in this case the injury comes from the muscle itself.

There are a few different grades of strain and the problem is often the result of muscle overload or fatigue.

4. PATELLOFEMORAL SYNDROME / RUNNER’S KNEE
This a broad term to describe the pain in the front of the knee and around the patella.

Again, the causes of Runner’s knee seems to be repeated stress on this area due to jogging, squatting and climbing stairs.

Poor running techniques, lack of strength and flexibility within the lower limb could be elements affecting your running performance and related pain (2).

5. ITB SYNDROME
The iliotibial band is a long band of tissue that runs from the top of your hips down the outside of the thigh, crossing the outside of the knee and connecting at the very top of the tibia.

This band serves as a connection between many important hip muscles and your knee, and it is believed to help for knee stability.

We think that ITB syndrome can be due to weak or poor neuromuscular control of the hip muscles, myofascial restrictions or poor lower body mechanics. But research around these areas have not illustrated further and further information remains unknown (3).

6. SHIN SPLINTS / STRESS FRACTURES
I will cover these two running conditions in one section, as they are related.

Firstly, shin splints is an aching pain on the inside of the shin, near the border of your tibia and the calf muscles. The pain can be a sharp, burning sensation and it might hurt like hell during a run.

This is a SERIOUS ISSUE because if you continue to run with a shin splint, it can develop as a tibial stress fracture. This is not an uncommon condition amongst runners.

Shin splints and stress fractures develop over time due to repeated stress on the bone (4).

7. LOWER BACK PAIN
This is a common issue regardless of your physical activities.

Back pain can occur at any point in time during your life and runners can be affected due to a wide range of reasons. Learn more about back pain.

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Should I stop running altogether?

If everything is a result of excessive stress on our bodies, you might be wondering if you should just quit running and avoid injury altogether?!

Don’t worry, the chance of getting injuries while running doesn’t mean that you have to stop running altogether.

Many of my patients are reluctant to stop the activities that they love doing, and the good news is, they don’t have to.

Many of the above issues have similar causes and patterns, including repetitive stress on the body. But don’t worry, we can help you to avoid injuries while running, and provide you with solutions to run pain free.

 

References:

van der Vlist AC, Breda SJ, Oei EHG, et al. Clinical risk factors for Achilles tendinopathy: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2019;53:1352-1361. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/53/21/1352

Sisk, D., & Fredericson, M. (2019). Update of Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Management of Patellofemoral Pain. Current reviews in musculoskeletal medicine, 12(4), 534–541. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12178-019-09593-z. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6942114/

Aderem, J., & Louw, Q. A. (2015). Biomechanical risk factors associated with iliotibial band syndrome in runners: a systematic review. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 16, 356. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-015-0808-7

Kiel J, Kaiser K. Stress Reaction and Fractures. [Updated 2019 Jun 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507835/

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