by Zeke Okely – Physiotherapist

Running is a fantastic way to build fitness and endurance and is one of the best ways to look after your heart and lungs, improve your sleep, increase strength and mobility, and boost your mood.

Many veteran runners, as well as new runners, will at some point experience an injury that can be frustrating and disheartening. Physiotherapy is the most effective method to recover from running injuries and prevent future problems, getting you back on your feet and on track as fast as possible.

Different types of runners are prone to different injuries and can be classified based on their running distance, experience, and objectives. For example, a sprinter is more likely to present with a hamstring strain compared to a marathon runner who would more likely experience conditions like shin splints or plantar fasciitis.

5 most common types of running injuries:

1. Patellofemoral pain syndrome: Pain around the knee joint
2. Achilles tendon injuries: Pain around the calf
3. Shin splints: Usually around the lower leg along the tibia and fibular bones
4. Plantar fasciitis: Pain around the base of the foot
5. Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome: Outside knee pain

The great news is all these running conditions are very treatable through tailored physiotherapy. Management of running injuries is multifaceted and aims to address all the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that contributed to the injury.

As you begin to recover from your injury and you’re feeling ready to get back on track and commence running again, it is important to first decide if you really are ready to start running again and then plan a graded return. Returning to running is about finding the “sweet spot”, how your healing can be managed while also progressing your body to strengthen and adapt. It’s important to remember that putting the right amount of stress on your body is required to promote healing. Your return to the running program will depend on the nature, duration, and severity of your injury.

After an initial thorough assessment, your physiotherapist will focus on pain management and gradually progress into building flexibility, strength, endurance, body awareness and functional rehabilitation to get you back on your feet and prevent future injuries. If you have had surgery, your physiotherapist will carefully follow any post-operative guidelines to avoid any further injury from occurring.

Your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your progress and pain levels to see how your body is responding, including checking if you have full range of movement in the joints surrounding the affected area as well as looking at your strength and control. Your physiotherapist will also check to make sure there is no swelling or instability (giving way or locking) of the joint.  If you have other pain throughout your body (such as lower back pain) but can run pain-free, then it is usually okay for you to get your joggers back on and hit the track.

Guide to a graded return to running: 

Your physiotherapist will assist you in developing an individualised and graded exercise program to find your own special “sweet spot” of promoting healing without overloading your body. This graded program, combined with hands-on therapy and specific exercises targeting your body’s individual needs, is the very best way to return to running and doing other things you love to do.

Here are 4 helpful principles to remember when creating your tailored plan:

  1. Find your baseline and work below your ‘break point’, noting that your baseline is how far you can run at a steady pace without pain during the run or for 48 hours afterwards.
  2. Allow a rest day between each run and after a rehab day to give your body the chance to recover.
  3. Only change one thing at a time to ensure you don’t overload your body.
  4. Progress the speed, frequency, and distance very gradually and only when you feel comfortable.

Following these 4 principles will ensure you find that “sweet spot” and set yourself up optimally for the future.

If you are experiencing pain from running, don’t put up with it, call us to make an appointment with one of our experienced physiotherapists and start your recovery today. Call (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online

 

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