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3 Common Running-related Injuries: Risk Factors, Prevention, and Treatment

Running-related Injuries

Runners are prone to acute and chronic injuries due to trauma or repeated strain. Common running-related injuries include issues with the shin, knee cap, and tendons. Novice runners have a significantly higher risk of injuries—about 18 per 1,000 hours of running. In comparison, recreational runners average around eight injuries per 1,000 hours of training.

What’s the Best Way to Treat Running Injuries?

For effective treatment, every runner needs individualized plans based on their own running patterns and risk factors. First, a physical therapist can use a biomechanical analysis and functional movement assessments to identify contributing factors. Then, the PT can develop personalized programs based on the patient’s results.

Risk Factors for Running-Related Injuries  

The single most common risk factor is prior injury. Likewise, weekly distance and training frequency also increase the risk of injury. Therefore, reducing the running volume and adding cross-training could lower the chance of harm.

Common Running-related Injuries 

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)

Commonly referred to as shin splints, MTSS is common in runners. It is characterized by generalized  pain on the inner side of the shin, also called the tibia. Risk factors include inexperience, a low arch, use of orthotics, higher BMI, and increased hip rotation. MTSS can be addressed with stretching, ankle strengthening, and activity modification/rest.

Tendinopathy

Achilles and patellar tendinopathy are two of the most common injuries among runners. Males and older adults are at a higher risk for developing tendon issues due to overuse. Other risk factors include poor running form, sudden changes in load, strength imbalances between muscle groups, and unequal leg length.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis refers to pain in the bottom of the foot, which is typically experienced during the first few steps in the morning. The pain of plantar fasciitis comes from inflammation or degeneration of the fascia (connective tissue) in the foot. Risk factors include a high foot arch, tight Achilles tendon, and excessive pronation (flat foot). Treatments can involve stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendons, calf strengthening exercises, and working on mechanics of walking and functional activities like squatting.

How to Prevent Running-Related Injuries

Prevention of running-related injuries is not straightforward. There is no one-size-fits-all methodology. A research study published in 2017 indicated limited evidence for generalized prevention strategies. The authors concluded, “Individual treatment should be used in clinical practice.” 

At Churchill Orthopedic Rehabilitation, we offer a state-of-the-art running analysis program with a biomechanical analysis and functional movement assessments. In addition, Carley Schleien, PT, DPT, our running specialist, can develop individualized prevention and treatment plans based on each patient’s history and risk factors. To refer a patient, call our office at 201-833-1333.

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