RUNNING INTO PAIN

By Tim Wright from Gower Acupuncture (Swansea)  

RUNNING INTO PAIN

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Summer is here and people who haven’t run before are hitting the pavements in an attempt to shift the winter flab. Keen amateur runners are upping their mileage, making the most of the long and (hopefully) warm days. Not surprisingly this is the busiest time of year for me for runner’s injuries.

Often the desire to fast track or “hack” fitness levels can lead to overuse of under-adapted muscles. These are muscles that haven’t had the time to adjust to the new exercise regime. This results in injury. Amazingly 79% of runners will get injured in any given year. (according to the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine). I’ve listed a few of the most common injuries I see in my clinic below:

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that runs underneath the sole of the foot. Its main function is to stabilize the mid-foot and forefoot during running. If the foot strikes in an unstable fashion the plantar fascia can be put under significant load, particularly as the heel begins to rise and the fixed length of fascia is stretched. This results in plantar fasciitis – inflammation of the ligaments and tendons running under the foot.

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Plantar fasciitis can manifest with pain anywhere along the underside of the foot from the heel to the forefoot. The pain can be excruciating. The best solution for this type of injury is to lay off the affected foot for as long as possible. Consider switching to cycling or swimming to give the foot time to heal.

Shin Splints

Pain in the shin usually means shin splints. They’re typically caused by doing too much mileage too quickly – not allowing muscles time to adapt to the new load placed upon them. If you suffer shin splints you don’t have to lay off running – just reduce your mileage then build it up gradually again week by week.

In its most extreme form, pain in the shin may signify a stress fracture to the tibia (shin bone). If this is the case the bone needs to heal and you may need to stop running for 3 months or more.

Knee Pain

The knee joint allows the leg to flex and extend. Numerous muscles insert into the knee joint on both the inside and the outside of the joint. Tightness or an imbalance of power in any one side can shift the knee out of alignment causing increased wear and pain. Treating the knee often involves treating surrounding muscles in the lower leg, thigh and sometimes even the back.

It is possible to run when suffering knee pain although it’s wise to reduce mileage, take more rest days and always stop when you feel the pain.

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Conclusion

Despite the shocking injury statistics, running is not inherently a dangerous activity. We are, by design, endurance animals. Unfortunately the two extremes of overtraining or under-activity can predispose runners to injury. Be careful, train sensibly within your limits and you’ll drastically reduce your chance of injury.

Gower Acupuncture practicing at The Lazy Frog, 1 Uplands Terrace, Uplands, Swansea SA2 0GU

Tel: 07764 254881

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