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There are two main types of injuries which a runner may sustain: the acute trauma and the overuse injury. The acute trauma is sudden, such as a torn ligament or a broken bone. The most frequently encountered problem, however, is injury through overuse. Below is an overview of the most common injuries.

Plantar fasciitis

This is caused by stretching or tearing the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot where the tissue attaches to the heel and causes pain in a specific area of the bottom of the foot towards the heel, possibly radiating towards the ball of the foot. The foot feels tender early in the morning and becomes less painful with movement.

This can be prevented by regular stretching of the calf and Achilles tendon.

Bursitis or Tendonitis

This is irritation of the bursa (a fluid filled sac which sits under the tendon) or tendons from friction, pressure, trauma or dysfunction. This causes pain and stiffness on movement with no visible swelling at first, but swelling as the condition worsens. Common problems areas include the knee and ankle.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is the connection between the heel and the most powerful muscle group in the body, the calf. This is a very common site for a disturbing injury.

The biggest contributor to chronic Achilles tendonitis is ignoring pain in your Achilles tendon and running through the pain of early Achilles tendonitis. If you r Achilles tendon is getting sore it is time to pay attention to it immediately.

Shin splints

Shin splints result from faulty posture, poor shoes, fallen arches, insufficient warm-up, and muscle fatigue, exercising on unyielding surfaces or poor running mechanics. They cause pain or discomfort on the front, the inside and/or the outside surface of the shin bone or directly on the shin bone.

This can be prevented by good shoes with shock absorbing features, heel toes landing for minimum impact and calf stretches.

Stress fracture

These small fractures occur due to excessive stress (overuse of the bone) or an increase in intensity or distance running, resulting in gradual breakdown of the bone.

Pain occurs especially in the foot and lower leg, becoming more intense with weight bearing activity. X-rays appear negative initially but fractures become visible up to two weeks after the initial injury.

Ankle sprains

Running on level ground rarely results in an ankle sprain but cross country running, trail running and stepping in a pot hole all could potentially lead to an ankle sprain. These injuries should be treated immediately with R.I.C.E.:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression (gentle)
  • Elevation.

The ice should be applied for about 15 minutes at a time, with at least a 15 minute at a time, with at least a 15 minute interval before the next application.

Runner’s knee

This essentially means softening of the cartilage of the knee cap. Portions of the cartilage may then be under either too much or too little pressure. This may result in cartilage deterioration at the inner part of the knee cap. Pain is usually also felt after sitting for a long period of time with the knees bent.

Iliotabal band syndrome

This is a pain or aching on the outer side of the knee and usually happens in the middle or at the end of a run and is often seen in runners who train only on a track or on uneven ground.

How to avoid injuries

The majority of running injuries occur from overtraining. Avoid doing too much too soon. Your progress in mileage and speed should be a gradual one. An unrelenting increase in mileage from one week to the next will ultimately result in a breakdown. It is important to keep in mind the principle of hard days and easy days being interspersed and also hard and easy weeks. Mileage should usually only be increased approximately 10% per week. Every third week, you should drop back a small amount. For most runners one or two days a week, at least, should be devoted to rest or non-running activities. This gives your body a chance to recover and strengthen itself. Remember, pain is a warning; stop running and consult your chiropractor immediately.

Regular stretching may also help reduce injuries. Runners frequently develop tightness in the posterior muscle groups, such as the hamstrings and the calf muscles. The quadriceps and anterior shin muscles may become relatively weak, due to muscular imbalance.