Sports Therapy
Running Injuries (Part 2)

Running Injuries (Part 2)

Some runners may experience injuries when running on concrete surfaces. The problem with running on concrete is that the body adjusts to this flat surface running and some of the muscles will become weaker, along with the added impact of running on a harder surface. Therefore it is advised to change terrain occasionally – such as trail, beach, or grass running. This is more unstable ground and allows the legs to strengthen different muscles. Runners should be wary of twisting their ankles on such terrain. Running downhill also increases knee stress and should therefore be avoided. Reducing the frequency and duration can also prevent injury; three 20–30 minute sessions a week should suffice.

A runner who finds himself injured should not continue to run because continuing could further damage the injury and prolong the recovery. A common acronym used to help the recovery process is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Another injury prevention method common in the running community is stretching. Stretching is often recommended as a requirement to avoid running injuries, and it is almost uniformly performed by competitive runners of any level. Recent medical literature, however, finds mixed effects of stretching prior to running. One study found insufficient evidence to support the claim that stretching prior to running was effective in injury prevention or soreness reduction.[10] Another, however, has demonstrated that stretching prior to running increases injuries, while stretching afterwards actually decreases them.[11] The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that all stretching be done after exercise because this is when the muscles are most warmed up and capable of increasing flexibility. Recent studies have also shown that stretching will reduce the amount of strength the muscle can produce during that training session.

Recently, some runners have concluded that barefoot running reduces running related injuries. “Some experts now believe that most athletic shoes, with their inflexible soles, structured sides and super-cushioned inserts keep feet so restricted that they may actually be making feet lazy, weak and more prone to injury. As a result, barefoot training is gaining more attention among coaches, personal trainers and runners.”[12] “Research has shown that wearing shoes to exercise takes more energy, and that barefoot runners use about 4 percent less oxygen than shoe runners. Other studies suggest barefoot athletes naturally compensate for the lack of cushioning and land more softly than runners in shoes, putting less shock and strain on the rest of the body. Barefoot runners also tend to land in the middle of their foot, which can improve running form and reduce injury.”[12] However, this position on barefoot running remains controversial and a majority of professionals advocate the wearing of appropriate shoes as the best method for avoiding injury.[13]

Additionally, there have also been claims that improved posture reduces injuries and helps to cope with existing injuries.[14] For example, one 2004 study showed that improved running form can significantly reduce eccentric loading of the knee.[15]

Recent studies have shown that runners do not have more osteoarthritis than people who do not run.[16]

Although it is not an injury, people with asthma suffer sometimes from running, especially if they have exercise-induced asthma. Asthma becomes more a problem with colder weather, increased speed, and uphill running.

  1. ^The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?
  2. ^Superglue for Blisters, Cuts and First Aid
  3. ^After Exercise – Does an Ice Water Bath Speed Recovery?
  4. ^ Herbert, R.D. & Gabriel, M. (2002). Effects of stretching before and after exercising on muscle soreness and risk of injury: systematic review. British Medical Journal, 325 p. 468. online
  5. ^Stretching and running injuries
  6. ^ abTara Parker-Pope, The Wall Street Journal
  7. ^Amy Cortese, Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants, New York Times, Aug. 29, 2009.
  8. ^ The Egoscue Method of Health through Motion, Pete Egoscue and Roger Gittins
  9. ^Arendse, Regan E. et al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: Volume 36(2) February 2004 pp 272–277. Reduced Eccentric Loading of the Knee with the Pose Running Method.
  10. ^Chakravarty et al. (2008) American Journal of Preventive Medicine. (Vol. 35, Issue 2, Pages 133–138.) Long Distance Running and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Prospective Study.

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