Running Injuries

What running injuries present in clinic and why? This article will address three of the most common injuries seen, and give an insight as to why they occur and what can be done to prevent them.

Iliotibial band syndrome (Runner’s knee) – the iliotibial band is a thick sheath of fibrous connective tissue running from the iliac crest (pelvis) to the outer tibia (shin). As the band passes over the lateral femoral condyle (bony prominence just above knee on outer aspect), it is prone to friction as the knee is straightened during running. Pain on the outside of the knee, aggravated by (downhill) running and tightness down the side of the thigh are all symptoms of this condition. The treatment for this begins with rest, cold therapy and stretching of the tight band. Oosteopathic treatment is highly beneficial.

Anterior compartment syndrome (shin splints) – the anterior compartment of the lower leg is a group of muscles housed in a connective tissue sheath. When the muscles become too big for the compartment, this painful syndrome occurs. This can occur due to an impact injury, causing bleeding, a muscle tear, or overuse, all of which lead to swelling. Symptoms include sharp pain on the outside of the leg, muscle tenderness and pain on lifting the foot up. Again, rest, ice and compression (for 20 minutes) are necessary and osteopathic treatment is highly beneficial.

Hamstring muscle strain/tear – the hamstrings are a group of three muscles (biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus) which act to bend the knee and extend the hip. A hamstring strain or tear (a Fernando Torres special!) usually occurs during the deceleration phase of running, as you straighten your leg and plant the foot. Osteopathy can once again be highly beneficial. Early commencement of a progressive running program is an important component of rehabilitation following injury, and a generic protocol is outlined below, which should be followed after consultation with your sports osteopath to allow modification as necessary…

  • running program starts 48 hours after injury
  • 10 minutes of gentle hamstring stretching followed by
  • 20 minute running sessions twice a day
  • commences with short stride jogging (“this new fad called ‘jogging’. I believe it’s ‘jogging’ or ‘yogging’. It might be a soft ‘j’. I’m not sure, but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild…” – Anchorman)
  • increase stride length and pace gradually over session as pain/ache allows
  • interval running over 100 metres, with acceleration, maintenance and deceleration phases
  • if slightest pain in hamstring felt, cease action immediately and ice area (program can be attempted again in just over 12 hours time)
  • finish with gentle hamstring stretching and apply ice to injured area for ten minutes

Whether you are an elite runner, run for fun or just run for the bus, injury can occur and it is important to take action early. If you have a running injury, it may be worthwhile coming to see us at Atlas Osteopathy (with clinics in East Finchley and Moorgate, as well as the option of home visits), where we can explain your problems to you, why they occur and whether or not you are suitable for osteopathic treatment. Often this can be done via email or on the phone.