Do you wish you could run with no aches or niggles and no lingering soreness from yesterday’s session. Well, you are not alone; research shows that as many as 79% of runners get injured at least once during the year. Stop. Think about that number for a moment; nearly 8 out of every 10 runners you see at your next race have been or will be injured sometime that year.
Think of running pains in terms of a spectrum. At one end you have severe, full-blown injuries, we’ll name that the red zone This includes stress fractures, severe tendon pain and ligament injuries that require time off. At the other end of the spectrum, where you're in top form, is the green zone. Mild, transient aches that bug you one day and disappear the next sit closer to the green end. Unfortunately, many runners get stuck in the middle, in the not-quite-injured but not-quite-healthy yellow zone. Your ability to stay in the green zone depends largely on how you react to that first stab of pain. Often a little rest now, or reduction in training mileage and intensity, with some treatment, can prevent a lot of time off later. Developing a proactive long-term injury-prevention strategy, such as strength training, stretching, regular massage and foam-rolling can help keep you in the ‘green.’ Physiotherapy is a lot like homework, not all of us like having to do it, but if you don't do it, you’re sure to get in trouble at some stage! You can find and download more information and exercise leaflets for injury prevention at this link: https://www.co-kinetic.com/landing/page?user_id=10093&campaign_id=744
So, What Causes Running Injuries?
There are a lot of theories as to what causes running injury but it seems the answer is fairly obvious: running! With running being the key risk factor for running injuries what other factors influence risk? Historically a lot of emphasis was placed on factors like leg length discrepancy, over-pronation (flat foot), high arches, genu valgus/varum (knock knee or bow legged) and poor warm up and stretching routines. However, recent studies have shown there is no one specific risk factor that has a direct cause-effect relationship with injury rate or injury prevention. Whilst warming up, compression garments, acupuncture and massage have some evidence in reducing injury rates it is all a little grey. Leaving you with a confusing mix of contributing factors that probably lead to running injuries.
There is however one specific factor that has been proven, and that is TRAINING ERROR. Estimates suggest that anywhere from 60 to as much as 80% of running injuries are due to training errors. Runners become injured when they exceed their tissues capacity to tolerate load. A combination of overloading with inadequate recovery time. The body is amazing at adapting to training however some tissues resposnd better and quicker to load than others. Tissues, such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage, are particularly at risk because they adapt more slowly than muscles to increased mechanical load / training.
Factors that affect how much training load a runner can tolerate before injury will also have a role. There are 2 key factors that appear to play a part in this – Body Mass Index (BMI > 25) and history of previous injury, especially in the last 12 months. While high BMI and previous injury may reduce the amount of running your body can manage, strength and conditioning is likely to increase it. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of strength training to reduce injury risk and improve performance. Training error and injury risk share a complex relationship - it may not be that total running mileage on its own is key but how quickly this increases as well as increasing demand of training like hill reps and speed work. So, if you understand the primary reasons for getting injured then you are heading in the right direction to staying healthy. You can find out more on injury prevention, with recommended exercise leaflets and videos, at the following link. https://www.co-kinetic.com/landing/page?user_id=10093&campaign_id=744
At the Performance Lab we have produced a series of prevention and treatment guides for the 6 most common running injuries which you can download here https://www.co-kinetic.com/landing/page?user_id=10093&campaign_id=744 Don’t Run into Trouble