Running is a great way to keep fit and has numerous benefits, such as improved health, fitness and overall wellbeing. However, like all physical activities it is important to be aware of the risk of injuries and to know how to recognise and treat them (either at home or with the support of your doctor). If you are unlucky and sustain an injury, this knowledge will help you get back to running as soon as possible.
The most common injuries can often be prevented as they result from strains and sprains due to overuse and incorrect form, technique or equipment. If injuries occur, early detection and taking immediate action can speed recovery and reduce the chances of long-term damage. The MYRUN Technogym treadmill helps prevent injury by improving your running your style with direct and immediate feedback.
Most injuries of this kind are mild or moderate, so let’s make sure that we heal them quickly and don’t aggravate them further. This article explains how to identify some of the more common injuries through their symptoms, and how to treat them quickly and effectively so you can start clocking up the miles again sooner rather than later!
- Pulled muscles
Cause: Pulled muscles, which are the result of a tear in the muscle or tendon fibres, are very common in any sports activity that involves repeated contraction and stretching of the limbs. Muscles are like chewing gum. The more you chew gum, the more pliable it becomes and so can be stretched further without snapping. Warming up muscles properly before intense exercise helps them become more elastic and less prone to injury. Failure to warm up muscles properly before intense exercise is like trying to stretch a fresh piece of gum. It possesses no elasticity and so, if it is stretched, it is more likely to snap or tear. Common muscle pulls among runners are:
Symptoms: Depending on severity – feeling tight, painful to move, cramp, swelling and bruising, tender to touch. Not as common, if the muscle is completely torn or ruptured, is pain that will be severe and immediate, and you will be unable to walk on the affected leg.
Symptoms: Pain and tenderness in the groin and the inside of the thigh, pain when you bring your legs together or raise your knee, a popping or snapping feeling during the injury, followed by sharp pain.
Symptoms: Depending on severity – sudden and severe pain during exercise, along with a snapping or popping feeling, pain in the back of the thigh and lower buttock when walking, straightening the leg, or bending over, inability to walk or stand, tenderness or bruising.
Treatment: Irrespective of which muscle group is involved, the treatment for a minor to moderate pulled muscle in one of the areas above is to apply the PRICE principles:
Taking anti-inflammatory painkillers (remember that these drugs may have side effects so only use them for short periods unless otherwise directed by your doctor) and specific exercises designed to strengthen your muscle are also effective.
- Piriformis syndrome – sciatica
Cause: An important muscle involved in almost every lower body movement is the piriformis muscle, located deep in the buttocks. It stabilises the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. Pain is caused when the piriformis muscle presses against the sciatic nerve.
Symptoms: Pain, tingling or numbness in the backside extending down the leg, which gets worse when you climb stairs or sit.
Treatment: Rest and stretch: sit with the ankle of your injured side crossed over the opposite thigh; lean forward and hold for 15 counts. Repeat three to five times per side. When you return to your training schedule, avoid running on hills or uneven surfaces, use good posture and ensure that you warm up and stretch properly.
- Shin splints
Cause: Shin splints is a general term used to describe exercise-induced pain resulting from strenuous, long running on hard surfaces like roads and pavements. You are at more risk if you have been running for less than 5 years, wear poorly fitting/worn shoes, are overweight, have flat feet, tight calf muscles or weak ankles.
Symptoms: Pain is felt along the shin bone (tibia), which runs down the inner part of your shin. It begins with a dull, aching pain but it can become very painful if you ignore it and continue to exercise.
Treatment: Rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medicine are the mainstays of treatment.
It is by no means inevitable that you will sustain an injury, however, if you do, the default position should be to rest and let the injury heal before returning to sport. Most sprains and strains are mild or moderate and can be treated at home with the PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) principle. Taking care of yourself is incredibly important as doing this will ensure that you enjoy a long, enjoyable and injury-free running experience. Remember, to always seek medical advice from your doctor or a physiotherapist if you are in severe pain or have any concerns about the seriousness of your injury.