Common Running Injuries
Well the month of March is here and the running season is back in full force. Many of you have been training for and running in marathons and half marathons already! And I'm willing to bet that many of you have experienced pain or injury at some point during your training. Sometimes it's nothing serious but other times it can threaten to derail your training and possibly keep you out of the race. So what can you do to minimize those issues and maximize your performance?
This is also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome. It is caused by excessive stress to the undersurface of the kneecap and often causes irritation of the cartilage. Usually more common in women, it is often predisposed in individuals with too much rolling out of the feet (overpronation), too much outward angling of the limb at the knee (knock knee or genu valgum), a hypermobile patella, tight hamstrings, or weak hips, quads and glutes.
Treatment of this nagging problem usually involves a good stretching and strengthening program along with anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes a supportive knee brace can help and a shoe orthotic may be indicated. Reducing your mileage and intensity for a time will help it resolve quicker.
These injuries occur in the group of muscles on the back of your thigh which include the semitendinosis, semimenbranosis, and biceps femoris. They are responsible for knee flexion and to a lesser extent help extension. Injuries can range from a "pull" or a strain to a complete tear and usually occur with acceleration or sudden deceleration and in runners while sprinting.
Initial treatment consists of rest, ice, and stretching. Deep massage and the use of a roller can help with pain and swelling. Once the pain and swelling have subsided a gradual return to activity should begin. Typically, I recommend cycling on a stationary bike or an elliptical followed by light jogging on a treadmill. By slowly increasing your activity 10-20% a week you should be running again in a few weeks!
ILIOTIBAL BAND SYNDROME
If you are experiencing pain on the outside part of your knee this may be the problem. The IT band is a tight band of tissue extending from the hip down the outer thigh and attaching just pass the knee joint. Repetitive movement over the lateral femoral condyle (prominent thigh bone at the knee) with constant flexion and extension while running can cause painful irritation and sometimes a popping sensation. A long stride, excessive bowlegged alignment and hill training are risk factors for this injury.
While running cessation isn't required, you may have to change your training routine or adjust your technique. Use of anti-inflammatory medication and ice may help resolve this issue and strengthening of the hip abductors may prevent this problem.
Remember to listen to your body! Most injuries while running can be avoided by good shoe wear, avoidance or overtraining and a good stretching and strength program that accompanies your training. If you experience any of these problems, a little time off or reduction of intensity can pay off in the long run. And if any of these persist or seem severe, don't wait too long to have it evaluated by an experienced orthopedic surgeon or trained medical provider.