Do you experience uncomfortable pain from running? At Schoen Clinic London, the majority of injuries we see through running, or any repetitive sport, are due to fatigue.
Fatigue injuries are basically overuse injuries affecting the bone or the tendons and are caused when a part of the body gets stressed and loaded excessively, then not given time to recover and adapt. It can be simply prevented with the right techniques and preparations.
Try out our top 5 tips to stop unnecessary injuries:
Diversity is good for the body, as well as the mind. Try different distances, surfaces, speeds, hills and inclines on your runs, to keep your body and brain challenged. Beware of the road’s camber as this will automatically make you run asymmetrically, putting more weight and strain on one side of your body.
High-intensity, routine running can lead to a number of injuries, including plantar fasciitis (heel pain) – a sharp pain along the arch and heel. Occasionally running forefoot to heel could help prevent this.
We often talk about load management: balancing exercise with your body’s ability to handle it. Injuries occur when stress exceeds the body’s ability and can worsen if the body isn’t given enough time to recover.
Listen to your body. Too much running or impact can result in stress fractures, these can happen in almost any bone but are particularly common in the hip, metatarsals, tibia or navicular bone. With a stress fracture you may notice a sharp, aching or burning pain that comes on as the run progresses and continues afterwards. You’ll probably notice swelling and bruising too. These injuries will need to be diagnosed early. X-rays may appear normal and often MRI scans are required if the diagnosis is in doubt.
Smaller strides will change the load and impact on the body. Again, such variation can be beneficial, especially following injury.
Repetition of a particular movement may lead to tendon injuries, particularly in the foot, such as the Achilles tendon. Shorter footsteps can help in the prevention and recovery of such tendinopathies.
Get a friend to film you running and share this with fellow runners or doctors for their tips. Look out for asymmetrical movements from the front and the side. You’ll be able to see any mistakes you’re making and adjust accordingly.
Correct posture is key to a good running technique. Poor posture can make you run asymmetrically and this in turn can lead to a number of injuries, such as shin splints – a shooting pain and ache along the front of your lower leg.
Don’t underestimate the value of a well-fitted pair of trainers! Go to a running shop or physiotherapist if you can and get your gait measured on a treadmill or scanner. An expert can analyse your specific needs and advise on the best shoes for you.
Schoen Clinic London has one of the UK’s three 4D scanners, which creates bespoke modelling from the heel, up the lower back and neck, to the top of the body. Using this and working with podiatrists, we are able to give advice on additional tools you may need, such as bespoke inserts for footwear. Any adjustments to ensure your trainers fit your feet better will benefit you.
Although not an injury, for female runners, we’d recommend monitoring your menstrual cycle and note any changes. For instance, the female athlete triad is a condition that happens where a lot of exercise leads to excessive weight loss, interrupting the menstrual cycle and causing osteoporosis. Changes in your menstrual cycle can indicate a health problem and are worth checking out.
If you do get injured or are suffering from continual pain, do see your doctor or a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy will treat 70% of running injuries. Only 5% of injuries will ever require surgery.
Whether you’re participating in a ‘Couch to 5k’ or power-training for a marathon, our advice is the same. Our bodies are machines: whilst powerful and adaptable, they need constant care and maintenance.
For further support and to learn about Schoen Clinic London’s Rapid Access Running Injury Service, please visit schoen-clinic.co.uk/running or call 0203 929 0809.
Credit: Mr Ali Abbasian, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon MBBS FRCS (Tr&Orth), & Matt Boyden, Outpatient Physiotherapy Lead; both of Schoen Clinic London