Running is a great exercise with many health benefits including the reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Despite these health benefits, running injuries are common. These injuries can develop due to poor gait mechanics or the repetitive action of running and overloading the musculoskeletal structures of the runners. The most common injuries related to running are:
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints) – Presents has pain in the front of the leg between the knee and the ankle. This injury is thought to be caused by the repetitive contraction of the muscles in the lower leg generating stress on one of the bones in the leg resulting in inflammation. Other causes of Shin Splints can be due to running on hard surfaces, running up an incline, previous leg injury, poor fitting shoes and problems with muscles in the lower leg and over-pronation of the foot.
Patellar Tendinopathy (Jumper’s Knee) – This injury in an injury to the tendon that sits right below your knee-cap. This tendon transfers the force of the quad muscle in running and jumping. This injury is a repetitive strain injury by the constant contraction and relaxation of the quad muscle and can present as pain at the front of the knee, pain made worse with running, jumping and sometimes prolonged sitting, and the pain is usually gradual and related to sports activity.
Plantar Fasciitis – This is the most common cause of heel pain. With running, as the heel strikes the ground, it absorbs the impact and is able to transmit the force to other parts of the foot via the plantar fascia and other structures of the foot. With prolonged repetitive overuse and ageing, the absorbability of the plantar fascia decreases leading to heel and foot pain. Plantar fasciitis can be caused by excessive pronation, having high arches or flat feet, prolonged running or standing especially on hard surfaces, shoes that don’t fit well or are worn out, and tight Achilles tendon or calf muscles. People with plantar fasciitis will experience pain in the heel, feet pain worse in the morning as they get out of bed, and feet pain with stair climbing and prolonged standing.
Patellofemoral Syndrome – The causes of patellofemoral syndrome is due to abnormal patellar tracking in addition to high compressive loads generated by the quad muscles leading to an increased stress of the joint. Symptoms may include knee pain especially with sitting or having the knee bent, pain with squatting, jumping and using stairs (especially with going down the stairs). You may also experience a grinding or popping sensation with knee movement.
If you’re a runner or would like to get into running and experience these symptoms, come in and get looked at by one of our therapists at Full Function Rehab and Wellness.
Written by: Dr. Anne Trinh DC