Pain means injury - when and why you should stop running!



Last week we covered some simple but effective ways to get into running, to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks. So now you’re ‘up and running’, picking up speed and clocking up the miles, it’s important to remember that like any machine, the more we use our bodies, the more maintenance is necessary! While a good workout often means pushing your body, PAIN while running means INJURY and that’s not good! Here we’ll explain some of the most-common injuries, what they involve and how to prevent/treat them….

Plantar Fasciitis

Symptom - Pain under the heel, may also run along the sole of the foot. Cause - Plantar fascia muscle is over-tight and weak, pulling excessively hard on its tendon attachment to the underside of the heel bone. This can cause inflammation and/or tearing. Treatment - Requires deep-tissue massage, stretching exercises and possibly medial arch supports (orthotics). Prevention – Stretch gently by pulling the toes towards the shin, massage by rolling a golf ball under the foot.

Achilles Tendonitis

Symptom - Pain to the rear and above the heel. Cause - Calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) are over-tight and pulling excessively on the Achilles tendon which connects them to the heel bone. Achilles becomes inflamed (‘itis’ refers to inflammation/swelling, tendonitis = inflamed tendon). Treatment - Requires deep-tissue massage and stretching exercises to release and lengthen the calf muscles, reducing the strain on the Achilles tendon. Heel-raise supports may be prescribed but often cause more tightening of the calf muscle over the long-term as ankle range of movement is reduced. Prevention – Keep the calves supple with daily stretching and regular massage.

Shin Splints

Symptom – Sharp pain/burning down the front of the shin. Cause – Excessive tension and inflammation of the muscle, tendon and fascia covering the front of the shin bone. Foot slapping down when heel strikes the ground shows muscle weakness. Treatment - Requires soft-tissue release, gentle stretching and short-term rest to release soft-tissue, reduce inflammation and return muscle to full function. May require arch support if ‘flat-foot’ is causing over-pronation. Average 2-3 weeks with treatment to recover. Prevention – wear supportive shoes, run softly and stretch by gently pulling the toes and ankle away from the shin.

I.T.B. Syndrome Illio-tibial Band Syndrome

Symptom - Pain at the outside of the knee, sometimes along the outside of thigh / into the hip. Cause - The Illio-tibial band connects the Gluteal muscles (located in the backside) and the T.F.L (tensor fascia latae) muscle (located at the side of the hip) to the outside of the knee, allowing these muscles to provide steering, support and stability to the knee joint. When over-tight, these muscles pull upwards on the I.T. band causing inflammation at its attachment point to the bone on the side of the knee (pain may travel up along the thigh). Often misdiagnosed as sciatica (pain running from lower-back down the thigh). Treatment - Requires deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy and stretching of the Glutes, T.F.L. and I.T. band. Average 3-4 week to recovery. Prevention – Run softly, stretch the glutes and hips daily and regular massage.

Piriformis Syndrome (sciatica)

Symptom - Pain in/over the backside which may radiate down the leg (often causes numbness / pins and needles). Cause - Piriformis is a deep muscle in the backside which often passes over the sciatic nerve. When over-tight, piriformis traps the sciatic nerve causing impingement and inflammation. Treatment – Deep tissue trigger point therapy, soft tissue release and stretching to release and lengthen piriformis. Prevention – avoid running on sloped surfaces, stretch glutes and piriformis daily, regular massage.

Runners knee (chondromalacia patella / patellofemoral pain syndrome)

Symptom – Pain on or under the kneecap, may include swelling on the knee cap or the entire knee joint. Cause – the patella (kneecap) is held in place in front of the knee joint (where the thigh and shinbone meet) by the quadriceps tendon. The quadricep muscles may tighten (especially in heel-strike runners) and pull excessively on the patella. Pain will result when a) the tendon becomes stressed and inflamed or b) the kneecap is pulled hard against the femur and the resulting friction causes wear of the cartilage between the bones. Treatment – Deep tissue massage and Soft tissue release of the quadriceps to reduce pressure on tendons and cartilage. Supplementation of Glucosamine Sulphate has been found to aid cartilage regeneration. Surgery to remove cartilage debris as a last resort.

REMEMBER – If in doubt, check it out… with a qualified, experienced professional.

Health Matters Multidisciplinary Health Clinic, Clonmel and Thurles

Neuromuscular Therapy; Back Pain, Neck Pain, Frozen shoulder, Trapped nerves, restless leg etc…

Sports Therapy; Runners knee, Achilles Tendonitis, Shin Splints, Plantar Fasciitis, I.T.B Syndrome and Piriformis syndrome, Tennis elbow etc…

Personal Training Personalised routines and advice to suit your lifestyle…

Course provider; E.P.P.I.C. Flexibility one-day workshop for coaches and athletes…

Back to Health 5-week program for rehabilitation and treatment of back pain.

Contact Neil Dennehy (15th year in healthcare) on 087 629 3729 or for more info / to book appointment…

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