Treating and avoiding common running injuries

The Great North Run is a key date in the region’s sporting calendar for professional and amateur athletes alike. But running a half-marathon can have some major effects on your body. Here Spire Washington Hospital’s specialist physiotherapist in lower limb problems, Andrew Appleyard, discusses some of the common running injuries, how they are treated and how you can avoid them in future.

What sort of injuries do you see after the Great North Run?

The reality is that most people don’t prepare properly for something like the Great North Run. We see a variety of problems from pelvic pain, ITB syndrome (a common runner’s injury on the side of the thigh) to anterior knee pain, shin splints, achilles tendon problems and plantar fasciitis which affects the fascia that runs under the foot.

One common problem is that people attempt to manage their injuries and think they’ll go away on their own, but if you are getting into running, you need to explore the reasons why the problem occurred in the first place.  Generally, it’s down to training errors or the mechanics of how you run.

What sort of treatment do runners generally require?

We analyse why the injury occurred but after the Great North Run, the cause is obvious!

It’s very rare that a person will need surgery. The key message is to allow the injury to settle down and it then comes down to what you want to do afterwards. It may be a matter of letting it get better without any intervention - if you were pretty sedentary before and you go back to doing very little active exercise, then rest, professional advice and some soft tissue therapy should see everything heal, depending on the severity of the problem.

Seeking advice quickly is important to ensure best management and quick recovery, and we can see people at Spire Washington Hospital within a couple of days.

Sometimes, just getting the right advice as a first port of call can help you start to manage your injury properly and speed up the recovery process.

What sort of people are most likely to suffer from running-related injuries?

Running is a fun thing to do and often people (especially amateurs) don’t pay too much attention to potential problems, but anyone can end up with injuries. People who have sedentary lifestyles who then start high impact exercise that their body isn’t ready for tend to hurt themselves. We see lots of people with injures from boot camps too.

It’s worth knowing that the more training you do without a proper training plan in place, the more likely you are to get injured. If you are training five or six times a week, you are probably not giving yourself enough recovery time. If you train every other day, you are allowing your body the opportunity to repair itself.

People who have been doing sport for a long time are less likely to be injured because their body is used to it and they are more likely to be informed about their chosen activity and its impact on the body.

Can you help runners prevent future injures?

If you intend to continue with regular running, we can definitely help and would look at the way you run. Are you flat-footed, what sort of strength do you have, what is your training regime? We would identify the most significant problems and help the runner to correct them. We use  exercises and a full clinical assessment, including  an assessment of the leg stance. For example  I may ask people to do one-legged squats. Can they control those? Remember, five times your body weight is coming down on your leg when you’re running so that’s quite an impact.

If you don’t have great strength, your body is good at compensating to deal with small problems, but not when there are a lot of problems happening at once. Injuries always come down to a combination of issues. We look at whether your training regime is correct, and we can give guidance so that you progress appropriately and don’t overload your body. It’s really about the work you do leading up to a much bigger run.

Our job is to make people aware that we are here if they do need any advice about their training or help to recover from injury. All the advice we give is evidence based and personalised to the individual.

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