Injury Prevention: Common Running Injuries

Injury Prevention: Common Running Injuries

The Achilles tendon is a very thick, strong structure that can absorb and transfer a lot of force. Running puts a large amount of force onto the body and this tendon. Your body’s ability to accept this force can improve with time if you increase your training load gradually.

What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?

Many times Achilles tendon pain will come from increasing mileage too fast or adding in speed workouts, which the tendon is not strong enough to tolerate. Another possible cause of pain in the Achilles tendon is if the runner changes to a more minimalist shoe with a reduced ramp or drop.

Ramp is a measurement of how much drop the shoe creates in the sole from the heel to the toes. The minimalist running movement has caused a decrease in shoe ramp from as much as 14mm to as little as 0mm, dropping the heel down closer to the level of the toes. A lower ramp shoe will increase strain to the Achilles tendon.

If you have changed running shoes to a pair with significantly lower ramp but continued training at the same volume, you may increase the load on your Achilles tendon too fast.

Achilles Tendonitis Treatment

In the Running Clinic, through the support of instrument-assisted soft-tissue mobilization, we can strengthen the tissue of the tendon. We also work to develop a safe progression of increased volume to reduce the likelihood of tendonitis.

Two things to try at home for Achilles tendon pain:

Do on both sides if the pain is on both Achilles tendons.

Hip flexor injuries cause back hip pain and may spread to the upper quad/thigh area. Typically, you would feel this pain while running when the leg is extended behind and as you swing your leg forward. After straining the hip flexor, pain may also happen when you lift your thigh (getting out of a car) or stand up from a seated position.

Many runners are tight in the hip flexor muscles, and sitting for long hours reduces flexibility in the anterior hip region.

Causes for Hip Flexor Strain

Typical causes for a hip flexor strain are large increases in running volume, running hills, and increases in speed workouts. Tempo runs and interval work increase the demand on hip motion and increase the demand of the hip flexor muscles, which results in injury if the demand is too much for your present fitness level.

Groin Pull

A groin pull can feel like a hip flexor strain, with the location of pain being more on the inside of the thigh towards the groin region. If pain lasts longer than a typical muscle strain, see your physician to rule out other possibilities, like a hernia.

Hip Flexor Pain Treatment

Two things to try for back hip or groin pain: 

Once your hip is pain free begin #2: hip flexor strengthening.

The hamstring is a group of three muscles on the back of the thigh that work to pull the leg back and slow down the leg before it contacts the ground again. The hamstring group works with the buttock muscles during both parts of the running cycle. If the buttocks muscles are weak, it can overload the hamstrings, which causes strain or inflammation. In addition, if the hamstrings are weak or not contracting at the correct time, this can also cause strain or inflammation.

Hamstring Strain Cause: Sprinting

The hamstrings have a low blood supply and require more time than other muscles to heal. Sprinting has a higher rate of hamstrings strains because of the large increase in demand on the hamstring muscle.

In the Runner’s Clinic we use tools (sEMG) to see when the muscles are contracting during running. This allows us to identify the source of the problem. We also use these same tools to find the perfect exercises specifically for you to gain the most muscle strength and control.

Hamstring Injury Exercises

Add in resistance band around both knees as you get stronger.

The Iliotibial band, or IT band as it is more commonly known, runs from the outside of the hip to the outside of the knee, attaching onto the tibia. This band crosses both the hip and the knee, and its primary function is to stabilize the knee. The IT band is a thick strand of connective tissue that encloses a small muscle called the tensor fascia latae (TFL) that anchors this muscle into the iliac crest, as well as most of the tendon from the gluteus maximus.

Causes of IT Band Syndrome

IT band syndrome has been linked to weak gluteal muscle strength, which is important for stability of the pelvis and lower leg. If the gluteal muscles are not working while the leg is on the ground, then the alignment of the pelvis and the knee become impaired. This puts more tension onto the IT band. Over time this impairment continues to increase strain on the IT band, which can cause it to become irritated.

Strengthening the muscles around the hip, butt, and abdominals can help improve the alignment. Also, working on your body’s awareness of its alignment so that the muscles contract at the right time is a very useful tool to produce long-term changes.

In the Runner’s Clinic we utilize slow motion capture cameras, along with a force-plated treadmill to help improve body alignment.

IT Band Syndrome Exercises

The piriformis is a muscle in the buttocks that stretches from the sacrum to the outside of the hip on the femur. This muscle helps to stabilize the pelvis, as well as rotate and extend the leg out and back. This muscle can become overused by muscle weakness within the bigger muscles of the buttocks (gluteus maximus) or from instability of the pelvis due to lack of abdominal strength.

Causes of Piriformis Syndrome

When this muscle becomes overused, it can become tight and tender. Not only will this cause pain in the buttocks, but it can also restrict the movement of the sciatic nerve traveling down the leg causing radiating leg pain. Mobility and strengthening are important for each individual with piriformis syndrome.

In addition, running form can be an important component to analyze and address, which the Runner’s Clinic does with slow motion capture analysis.

Piriformis Syndrome Exercises to Try at Home

Two things to try at home for piriformis/ gluteal pain:

The kneecap helps stabilize the knee while running. It is shaped to fit within the grooves of the thighbone, so when it moves up or down the force from running is distributed evenly over an area. If the butt muscles, hip muscles, abdominals, or quads are weak and cannot control the pelvis and lower leg, the knee cap will shift to the inside or the outside of the knee joint. This will increase pinpoint pressures on the underside of the kneecap causing pain over time.

This pain is very sharp and will quickly reduce your ability to enjoy running. It’s important to focus on strengthening weak muscles that help to control leg alignment. You should also improve your body awareness contracting the right muscles at the right time.

Treatment for Runner’s Knee

In the Runner’s Clinic, we use slow motion capture cameras to see when running mechanics are impaired. We can see when a muscle is contracting during the cycle, to make sure muscles are working at the right time.

Exercises for Sore Knees From Running

Stop if pain increases to your knees or lower back.

Shin splints can occur in two different locations on the lower leg, in the front of the shinbone and on the inside of the shinbone. Even though the problem can occur at two different locations, the most common cause of this problem is that you have ramped up your training volume too quickly or you have a slow cadence (cadence is the number of steps a person takes per minute).

If you have a cadence slower than 160–170, you typically have a longer stride length and land with a straighter, more rigid leg. Landing with a straight leg is not as effective at absorbing impact forces, increasing demand onto the muscles and bones of the lower leg.

By increasing your cadence by five to 10 percent, you can reduce the loading rate and impact forces on the body, especially the knee and hip joints. In the Runner’s Clinic we use a force-plated treadmill to analyze loading impacts and cadence.

It is important to note that increasing your self-selected cadence by more than 10 percent at any one time will increase your energy demands, so you should increase your cadence slowly over time.

Shin Pain Exercises to Do at Home

Start with two sets of 15 and work up to three x 15 per side.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.