Did you know, that according to Sports Medicine Australia* (SMA), up to 70% of all runners sustain some kind of running 'niggle' over any 12 month period of time? Not surprisingly, most occur in the lower body.
- 42% are to the knee
- 17% to the foot and ankle
- 13% to the lower leg, such as the calf and shin
- 11% to the hip and pelvis.
Typically, these injuries occur due to training errors, such as increasing the load, the frequency, or the speed too quickly. In addition, an inappropriate or lack of any cross training for strength and conditioning means our bodies start to break down due to the repetitive nature of the running action. This brings about tissue overuse injuries, and if you're a runner, I bet you have been there, just like me with my Achilles tendinopathy!
The most common overuse injury noted in runners, is 'runner's knee' - also called patello-femoral pain (PFP). This is pain felt anywhere over or around the knee cap or patella. Iliotibial band friction ( pain and ache at the outer knee), plantar fasciitis (like standing on glass under the heel), tibial stress syndrome ( feels like shin stress fractures, but is not) and Achilles tendon issues also force many runners to the sidelines.
But..these niggles should never be the end of a running career for those who love getting out there on the roads, parks and trails.
Physios who run (like me!) are excellent at being your 'body coach.' For all injuries, there is a means to keep you exercising with reduced loads. This allows for any inflamed tissues to settle, but to also become stronger and adapt throughout the healing process to prevent re-injury once you return to your beloved running. What's involved?
- Start by assessing the whole person. Injuries and overuse in the knee and lower leg can often stem from the trunk, the pelvis or the hip.There is much evidence out there^ highlighting the important role of hip awareness and strengthening in the prevention of ongoing runner's knee issues.
- Use all treatment options to help settle the inflamed body part. Massage and other soft tissue techniques, alignment techniques, sports taping, dry needling to name a few.
- Establish a graduated training program as soon as possible. This can happen even in the first weeks of an injury. This may initially involve cross training, cycling or swimming, with a gradual re-introduction of walk/run intervals after healing is well underway ( think 4 weeks).
- Tissue loading and strength adaptation is essential. How can we make your tissues stronger and better equipped to deal with your running loads? After all,why did you injure in the first place? This rehab is the best part! Plyometrics and running specific dynamic loading, added to proximal hip strengthening will get you back and with decreased risk of re-occurence.
Catch any running niggle early. As a runner, you know when things don't feel quite right. Book in to see Katrina at The Fix Program.
^Thomson C, Krouwel O, Kuisma R, Hebron C. The outcome of hip excercises in patellofemoralpain: a systemic review(2016)