Prevent Running Injuries
with Enough Recovery Time
Running injuries are extremely common.
Nobody wants to get injured. Learning how to prevent running injuries can help you reduce such risks.
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Overuse Running Injuries
Knee-related injuries are the most common type of running injuries among the runners, followed by lower leg, ankle and foot injuries. Less common but still occurring are the hip and lower back injuries.
Common running overuse injuries:
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (runner’s knee): pain in the front of the knee (kneecap) associated with the damage or irritation of the cartilage underneath the patella
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS): pain and tightness on the outside of the knee due to inflammation of the Iliotibial band, the ligament extending from the outside of the thigh from the hip to the just below the knee.
- Achilles Tendonitis: pain and stiffness of the Achilles tendon, at the back of the ankle near the heel, associated with inflammation or degeneration
- Shin Splints (medial tibial stress syndrome): pain along the shin bone (tibia), the large bone at the front of the lower leg, due to small tears and inflammation caused by repetitive stress and overworking the sheath surrounding the bone
- Hamstring Strain (pulled hamstring): tightness or pain due to partial or complete tear in one or more of the hamstring muscles, the muscles at the back of the thigh
- Plantar Fasciitis: painful inflammation in the heel or along the arch of the foot due to injury and tear in plantar fascia, the connective tissue that stretches from the heel to the base of the toes
- Stress Fractures: increasing pain over time due to hairline cracks or small fractures in bones due to cumulative strain; mostly occurring in metatarsal (feet), calcaneus (heel) or tibia (shin)
Causes of Running Injuries
Watch the full video by Dr. Saeed Monterrey, PT, DPT, OCS
There is a broad range of factors that are perceived to cause and contribute to running injuries.
Examples are asymmetries and muscle imbalances, high arches, flat feet, inappropriate footwear, running surfaces, low muscle strength and flexibility, movement patterns, poor preparation, training programs, history of previous injuries, poor technique and the list goes on.
However, error in training is one of the primary factors found to be directly associated with this type of injury.
Training Error the Primary Risk Factor
According to a study, error in training or in combination with another factor contributed to 72% of running injuries.
Error in training or over-training is often described as too much too soon.
Physical stress and repetitive movements such as running put pressure and mechanical load on tissues. Tissues can be muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bones.
When the body goes through physical stress, the load will stimulate tissues to change and adapt.
If the body takes on too much physical activity too quickly without enough recovery time, it will be at risk for injury.
Generally, tissues have limited load capacity and an injury threshold. An excessive loading over that threshold without enough recovery time causes tissue failure. This failure can lead to mechanical pain and injury.
Recovery Time is Essential
The amount of load a tissue can tolerate without getting injured is called tissue capacity or injury threshold.
In other words, tissue capacity is the strength and durability of the tissue.
Proper training can increase the tissue capacity and lower risk of injuries.
A mechanical load such as running is a stimulus that affects the tissue capacity.
After running, the tissue capacity decreases initially. Then it increases, adapts and stays at the higher level.
Giving enough recovery time to the tissue after a physical stimulus is essential due to the initial decline in the tissue capacity.
If enough recovery time is given, adaptation occurs.
The tissue adaptation includes improved strength, flexibility and loading capacity.
This means the body can tolerate greater physical stress, and it becomes stronger and more durable.
Prevention by Enough Recovery Time
One of the effective ways to prevent under-recovery and overuse running injuries is to give the body enough recovery time to adapt.
If enough recovery time between running sessions is not given, the tissue cannot adapt and fully recover. Lack of sufficient recovery time could damage the tissue and over time can lead to overuse injuries.
Another way for prevention of overuse injuries is to stop introducing the same stimulus to the body over and over again. In this case, the stimulus is the running.
Adding other types of exercise to the training sessions can prevent overloading targeted tissues. Changing the exercise routine allows tissues to get enough recovery time and adapt before starting the same exercise again.
Meanwhile, runners should also be aware of their techniques. A poor running technique and improper movement patterns can also overload the tissue and result in injury and pain.
Header Image Credit: [WANG SHIH-WEi] © 123RF.com
Share Your Thoughts
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Now it’s your turn!
Have you ever had a running injury? What was your experience like?
Have you heard about the recovery time before? Do you give your body enough time to recover after each running session?
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Please note that the information compiled in this article is from a variety of sources and it may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Learn more