Running is a very popular outdoor activity and while extremely beneficial to one’s health, it can also be a cause to pains, niggles and even serious injuries. In a perfect runner’s world, every stride and every mile would be completed completely pain free, yet that is not always the case.
While some problems are just annoying and nagging, and rarely require taking time off running, others can be serious, painful and rule runners out for days or weeks. The more serious injuries will require adequate rehabilitation in order to allow runners to get back to the activity they love.
So, what are the common problems associated with running?
Achilles Tendonitis refers to inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles (Gastrocnemius and Soleus) to the heel bone (calcaneus). It is common in runners as it is usually caused by overuse and repetitive action.
Symptoms of achilles tendonitis include:
→ Pain at beginning of exercise, which reduces during activity, and gets worse following the activity.
→ Pain, weakness and stiffness in the achilles tendon
→ Tenderness, redness and warmth on the achilles tendon
Common causes of Achilles tendinopathy include:
→ Over-training or training too much too soon
→ Tight hamstring and calf muscles
→ Weak calf muscles
→ Toe walking
→ Hill running
→ Poor eccentric strength.
Treatment options for Achilles tendinopathy:
- Sports Massage to the calf muscles and hamstrings to reduce tightness
- Eccentric strengthening of calf muscles
- Balance and proprioception work
- Progressive loading on the tendon
Hamstring problems usually arise from weakness of those muscles. Flexibility plays a key role when it comes to the hamstrings. Individuals who have reduced flexibility of the hamstrings, are more at risk, as the hamstrings will be tight and shorter, therefore being under more tension when running. Hamstrings are often injured during the swing phase of running, where they work eccentrically (lengthening under tension) to stop the forward movement of the leg. Hamstring injuries can be classed into: Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3.
→ Slight discomfort in the back of the thigh. Usually able to walk normally but running may cause some discomfort.
→ Pain in the back of the thigh when trying to bend the leg. Walking pattern is likely to be affected, as well as the strength. There is likely to be swelling and tenderness in the hamstring.
→ There will be bruising and swelling present at the site of injury, as well as severe pain, weakness and lack of movement.
Common causes of Hamstring problems:
→ Poor eccentric strength
→ Reduced flexibility
→ Muscular tightness
→ Muscle imbalance
→ Improper warm-up
→ Poor running mechanics (overstriding – puts hamstrings in an overstretched position during foot contact with the ground)
Treatment options for Hamstring problems:
- Concentric and Eccentric strengthening exercises
- Sports Massage and Soft Tissue work to alleviate tightness
- Stretching exercises
- Balance and proprioception exercises
- Foam Rolling
Hamstrings as a muscle group are often neglected. Many people do not realise how important those muscles are and focus mostly on the quadriceps muscles. This means that often, hamstrings are simply overpowered by quadriceps, thus leaving them more susceptible to injury. If that is the case, when running, quadriceps will exert more force moving the leg forwards, and hamstrings will be too weak to slow that movement down, reducing in muscular tears. Many people do not do anything about hamstring pain, as they usually feel better after a few days. However, given their high chance of recurrence, appropriate rehabilitation is required to prevent further injuries in the future.
As always we are on hand to answer any questions and you can book an appointment for treatment by emailing email@example.com or calling 01482 325627.
Bart Klimek | Optimum3 Sports Massage Therapist