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West Hill Physiotherapy, Tower Road, Dartford, Kent, DA1 2EU [See map]
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Running Injuries

Running injuries occur by placing too much stress on our body. There are a number of reasons why someone may experience pain. Typically a running injury may arise due to one or more of the following factors:

  1. Biomechanical issues
  2. Training error
  3. Weakness


Common running injuries such as Ilio-Tibial Band (ITB) stress syndrome and runners knee are due to excessive force being placed on the knee and ankle whilst running. Overload to the muscles and tendons can lead to conditions such as Achilles tendinitis, shin splints and patella tendinitis.

When running there should be good alignment of the hip, knee and ankle as the foot makes contact with the floor. If the hip drops, the knee will deviate inwards causing the ITB to tighten and place increased stress to the inside of the knee. This in turn will also cause the foot and ankle to collapse. The muscles in the lower leg will then have to work harder to try and correct the position of the foot.

Having a good pair of running shoes which adequately support the foot and aid shock absorbency is always a good idea. Some seasoned runners like to wear minimalistic shoes or have a bare-foot or fore-foot running style. These runners tend not to have any problems as they have gradually built up the strength in their muscles and have also adapted their running style to achieve this.

If you have always worn trainers/running shoes, do check that they aren’t too worn. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if the tread looks okay the shoes will be fine. A good pair of running shoes should last you around 500 miles. If you have had your shoes for more than 6-8 months you should consider replacing them. Our advice is to always listen to your body. If you are beginning to experience new aches and pains and haven’t drastically changed your training schedule or route, then diverting your attention towards your running shoes isn’t a bad place to start looking.

Weakness in the hip muscles can be one of the primary causes for the hip to drop whilst running, placing stress on the knee and lower leg. Other biomechanical faults such as poor running technique and increased postural sway whilst running increase the risk of injury.

Training error and weakness

A lot of the patients we see with running injuries are new to the sport. Running is a great way to get active and its appeal spreads out to those who like the convenience of being able to just walk out the door and go for a run. Running is becoming ever more popular especially with the introduction of apps on our phones that help guide you from the couch to your first 5km run.

Running carries one of the highest injury rates in sport due to the nature of the loading and stress it places on the body. There is a common misconception that in order to be able to run further, you need to put in more and more miles. It takes time for the muscular and skeletal system to adapt to the increased demands placed upon it and the body needs sufficient time to heal between your runs. Trying to pound the streets more than 4-5 times a week is a pretty good way to guarantee an injury if you are new to running. A lot of people find that they achieve their cardio-vascular fitness quickly and so begin to push their bodies harder and run further. It is normally around this time, just as you begin to feel fitter, that an injury will present itself.

One of the best pieces of advice that can be offered here is to think about incorporating some strength and conditioning exercises into your training schedule to compliment your running programme. Running efficiency is not only dependent on your heart and lungs doing their job well but also on having strong muscles. Strengthening your muscles will actually improve your running economy. You will find that your muscles tire less easily when you run which means that you will be able to run further.

If you are one of those people who are relatively new to running and train more than 3 times a week do consider the above advice if you want to reduce your chances of picking up an injury. We always recommend substituting a running session for a strength and conditioning circuit. There are some great exercises out on the web and some fantastic exercises on media platforms such as You-Tube. Some important muscles to focus on with a strengthening programme would be the following

  • Gluteal (hip muscles)
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Adductors
  • Calf
  • Core muscles

Basic exercises such as squats, lunges, calf raises and plank exercises can help to target these important muscles. Running clubs and coaches also include running drills.

If you are not sure what type of exercises to do then please always seek professional advice from a qualified personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach. Alternatively why not come and see us at the clinic so we can help you identify areas of weakness in the body and tailor some exercises for you.

Always listen to your body and respect pain. It is not unusual to experience the odd niggle when you start running but it should be just a niggle that should resolve itself within a day or two. If you have a new pain that is getting worse do not try and “run through it”. Come and see us so we can work out why the pain is there. Remember prevention is always better than cure!


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