RUN PAIN-FREE WITH THESE EXPERT TIPS FOR AVOIDING COMMON INJURIES.
A seemingly innocuous activity like running can result in stress fractures because the repetitive loading can surpass the strength of even normal bones. Stress fractures are more common in high-intensity runners and those with high arches or tight calf muscles.
How to avoid injury Constant and localised pain in the lower leg or foot indicates the possibility of a stress fracture. Consult an orthopaedic foot surgeon if in doubt.
It is important to avoid running until the fracture has healed. You should also support the injured foot with an orthotic (insole, wedge or heel cup) and wear supportive shoes.
Sharp turns. In the case of female runners, there is scientific evidence linking poor hip abductor and external rotator muscle strength with ITBS.
How to avoid injury Treating it requires changing your running pattern and strengthening the hip abductors (glutes) as well as external rotators. Try lying sideways on the ground and raising the leg away from the midline. And standing erect while crossing one leg in front of the other, hiking the hip. Icing the IT band and massaging it with a roller bar after stretches also helps.
MEDIAL TIBIAL STRESS SYNDROME (SHIN SPLINTS)
Typically resulting in pain across the inside of the shin, this condition, commonly known as shin splints, is classically associated with runners, and is slightly more prevalent in women than men.
Less experienced runners are more prone. New scientific evidence now explains this condition to be due to repeated stress across the front of the tibia, which gradually resolves as the bone thickens once the beginner gets more used to running.
How to avoid injury Stop running once the pain develops as persevering can result in stress syndromes/fractures.
Build up a running routine and pace gradually, allowing the bone and muscles to condition themselves.
Strengthening the calf and shin muscles helps reduce the impact on the bone as you run. It also helps to minimise the risk of shin splints. There is insufficient evidence to suggest supportive shoes or running on a soft surface is truly protective.
This condition irks most runners because of its prevalence and stubborn nature. It typically causes pain in the bottom of the heel, which is worse with the first step out of bed in the morning, and can often persist for months or years before resolving.
Plantar fasciitis is more common in those with flat feet, those who are overweight and those who have had the condition before.
It is caused by degeneration of the foot’s arch-supporting band of tissue.
How to avoid injury Stop running for a short period. Use customised heel cups in shoes. Stretching exercises are also critical when treating plantar fasciitis, in particular calf stretches and plantar fascia stretches, where one flexes the big toe upwards to accentuate the arch of your foot.
Stretching should be done at regular intervals during the day and it is best to do them just before standing up when seated for prolonged periods or before getting out of bed.
Supportive shoes with an in-built arch and the use of night splints, even temporarily, are useful. If the condition persists, shockwave therapy or key-hole surgery is recommended to release the tight plantar fascia.