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Running is a wonderful form of exercise but, as with any type of exercise, it carries an accompanying risk of picking up injuries. In case you’re thinking of making it a part of your new fitness regime, we’ve put together a list of the most common injuries affecting runners, coupled with how to treat them and, even better, how to avoid them.
The name itself tells you how often this pain affects runners, but you can also develop it through other forms of exercise that involve a lot of bending of the knee. In fact, rather than being a single condition, it’s a term for pain in the knee (usually affecting the front of the knee and relating to the kneecap) that can have a number of possible causes. These causes include:
Thankfully, most mild cases of runner’s knee resolve themselves after time, with elevation, ice packs and painkillers being used to treat symptomatic pain and swelling. In future, it may help to wear extra support on the knee during exercise, so as to avoid excessive movement.
Shin splints are treatable by resting the affected area. The most common cause of shin splints is a condition called medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). It occurs as a result of regular and intense exercise that your body isn’t used to. Long distance running is a particular risk activity for this condition, which involves inflammation of the piece of connective tissue covering the shin bone.
You should avoid the activity that led to the problem for at least two weeks, though you can maintain your cardiovascular fitness through low impact forms of exercise such as swimming.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone, caused by repeated stress being applied to part of the body. Stepping up your training can increase your chances of developing a stress fracture. As with shin splints, resting the affected area is essential but six weeks is normally long enough for a stress fracture to heal.
The Achilles is the tendon that connects your heel to your calf and it can become inflamed if too much stress is put on it, such as overtraining or building up your running too quickly. You may notice a pain anywhere along the back of the tendon, but most commonly it presents close to the heel. Don’t run while the area is inflamed. Instead, treat it with ice packs and take aspirin or ibuprofen. You can also try massaging the affected area yourself.
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that will affect around 10% of people at some stage of their life, though it most commonly affects people aged 40-60. As with runner’s knee, women are twice as likely to develop the condition as men. The name refers to inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the strong band of tissue stretching from your heel to the middle of your foot. It supports the arches of the feet and acts a like a shock absorber for the foot.
Around 80% of heel pain cases resolve within a year and some things that may aid the process include:
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
The Iliotibial band is the long ligament that runs from the hip to the shin, down the outside of the thigh. It can become inflamed through the leg repeatedly turning inwards, an action that could come from overtraining or from running downhill or on banked surfaces. This inward turning can cause the band to rub against the bone, leading to the band becoming inflamed. Pain from the condition tends to present itself on the outside of the knee.
The activity that caused the inflammation must be avoided in the short-term. The initial treatment usually comes under the PRICE method of soft-tissue injury treatment – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. For compression, support wraps can be used.
How to avoid injury
Should you let these possible injuries put you off running?
No. There are great potential health benefits from running. Regular running can help reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes, it can help you manage your weight and it can also boost your mood. Just take a sensible approach to your running and follow the suggestions we’ve given you above. They’ll help to minimise your chances of picking up any of the injuries that we’ve mentioned in this article.
How can The Edinburgh Clinic help if you do pick up an injury?
Sports and exercise injuries can affect your muscles, bones and general health and wellbeing. We aim to help you feel better as quickly as possible with fast access to our specialised sports injuries services.At The Edinburgh Clinic, appointments are available with musculoskeletal medicine specialists, orthopaedic consultants and private physiotherapists. Our specialist team has access to a wide range of assessment, management and rehabilitation services on-site.
For more information on the services we provide at The Edinburgh Clinic, or to book an appointment, please contact us now.
0131 447 2340
The Edinburgh Clinic @ January 29 2014