Spring time is fast approaching, and it’s an exciting season for outdoor activities. For many people in New York, spring is the perfect time to spend maximum time outdoors and enjoy activities like running and jogging. Running/jogging is a great form of physical exercise, recreation and sports participation for adults and children. These physical exercises help build strong bones and prevent joint pain. However, injuries are quite common for many runners with reports suggesting the yearly incidence of running injuries between 37- 56 percent (2016 statistics). It is estimated that about 1 in every 3 recreational runners will have a running-related injury at some stage in their life. Leading multi-specialty pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective treatment for sports injuries that help reduce pain and restore the injured area to normal function.
Prior to running, runners can consider seeing a physical therapist to evaluate their functional mobility and movement patterns before experiencing an injury. Runners may have subtle inefficiencies or weak points that physical therapists can identify through a gait analysis. They can tell you where you need to adjust form, strengthen muscles; whether you should consider improving your footwear and so on. If you are injured, a physical therapist can help you recover from the injury and instruct you on how to continue with your training safely.
Most running-related injuries are lower extremity injuries, with knee injuries being particularly common. Common sites include the knee, lower leg, ankle, shin and foot. These injuries occur due to overuse or constant repetition of the same movement. Other prominent factors that may potentially increase the risk of sports injuries include – improper shoes/footwear, weak or unstable hips, excess body weight, increasing mileage or intensity too quickly, over striding, running barefoot or running on unstable surfaces and poor running mechanics. Running does have a risk of injury, but following some simple/basic guidelines can help effectively prevent these injuries in the long term.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Running Injury?
Common signs that a person may be injured or need to stop/alter their running habits include –
- Chronic pain or discomfort while running
- Pain at rest
- Experiencing shortness of breath
- Inability to sleep
- Headache during or after running
- Dizziness or lightheaded feeling any time
Common Running Injuries
In most cases, running injuries occur in the knee, ankle, shin and foot. On the other hand, runners are also likely to experience back and groin injuries. Running injuries that are relatively common include –
- Foot and ankle injuries – ankle sprain, heel pain, plantar fasciitis (bottom of foot pain)
- Lower leg pain – shin splints, stress fractures, calf problems
- Knee injuries – kneecap pain, tendonitis
- Patellofemoral pain (Runner’s knee)
- Achilles Tendinitis
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Patellar Tendinopathy (jumper’s knee)
- Hamstring strains
- Soft tissue injuries – such as a pulled muscle or ligament sprain
- Heat injuries – sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion, stroke
- Skin injuries – blisters or heat rash. Falling over while running or jogging can cause cuts and abrasions.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Running Injuries
Pushing through pain can always make the problem worse. Recognizing running injury symptoms early and providing treatment at the correct time can help prevent further complications. With focus on early injury recognition and treatment, the initial step involves a complete assessment of the patient’s posture, muscle strength, muscle tightness and stability by using advanced diagnostic imaging techniques such as X-ray or MRI scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
Treatment for these types of injuries include – physical therapy (with stretching and strengthening exercises) as well as other modalities like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), chiropractic care, injections, TENS, heat and ice applications and other rehabilitation programs. Physical therapy helps rebuild strength and restore proper movement of the affected joint or muscle after the injury. In addition, rehabilitation programs aid in recuperation following various injuries like shin splints, knee/ankle injuries and strains and sprains. Knee ligament surgery or surgery for a broken arm, wrist, ankle or leg will be recommended only as a last resort.
How Can Running Injuries Be Prevented – Tips
Most running injuries are repetitive or overuse injuries. The more an individual runs, the more will be his/her risk of suffering injuries. Here are some tips that can help you have a safe and injury-free spring running season –
- Warm-up drills – To prevent injuries and improve running form and increase speed, there are certain warm-ups that runners can perform. A mix of static stretches and dynamic stretches helps warm up and loosen the muscles, tendons and ligaments and provide the essential nutrients and oxygen to perform efficiently thereby reducing the risk of shin splints and tears and strains.
- Wear properly fitted jogging/hiking shoes – Improper footwear can cause a number of injuries, including foot/ankle sprains and fractures. Correct fitting shoes help your ankle joints stay stable, and lessen the impact of heavy landings on your feet.
- Break in new shoes – If you have to start with a new pair of jogging or hiking shoes, make sure to wear and check it a couple of weeks before starting long distance running. Wear the shoes for a few hours a day followed by some short jogs or hikes to avoid painful calluses, corns and blisters that often come with wearing brand new shoes.
- Examine and replace orthotics – Many runners and hikers use orthotic devices to help keep their physical activity comfortable. In leading multi-specialty healthcare centers, physicians recommend Foot Levelers orthotics, based on digital imaging for improving posture and balance. Added inside any closed footwear, these soles support the muscles and bones that make up each foot and maintain their natural structure. The digital image can analyze those areas of the feet that cause pain. Based on this, the right type of soles will be designed for runners (depending on their activity level and the type of shoes they would be wearing).
- Dress appropriately – Dress in layers and use lightweight, moisture-wicking apparels, particularly during chilly days. Runners should try to wear non-cotton, moisture wicking socks, as this can help avoid blisters and fungal infections.
- Gait analysis – Gait analysis measures your body mechanics and the activity of your muscles. Keeping track of the same can help prevent different injuries, especially if you’re a long-distance runner.
- Stay hydrated – As our body is made up of 90 percent of water, it is important to remain hydrated during your fitness regimen. Make sure to drink plenty of water both before and after your run or hike. Take in 6-8 ounces of fluids every 15-20 minutes of exercise. This will improve blood circulation and keep the muscles, ligaments and tendons healthy, loose and cramp free.
One of the important ways to prevent any type of sports injury is to become careful about the different activities you are engaging in. The whole concept of injury prevention begins with knowing what risks are present and learning to avoid them. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises in most cases help people from reinjuring themselves.