50-75% of all running injuries are overuse injuries
Recurrence of running injuries is reported in 20-70% of the cases
30-90% of all injuries lead to a reduction of training or training cessation
Unfortunately the research results are very mixed or inconclusive. Many studies fail to indentify individual factors, suggesting that it is multi factorial. However, there is research evidence to suggest that 3 factors have been consistently shown to increase the risk of incurring a running injury:
1. History of a previous injury
3. "Higher Mileage" -I put this in quotes because it's vague and not well defined in the literature.
Overuse injuries occur when a tissue is pushed beyond the point that it can function properly. They are caused by repetitive stress with inadequate healing time/environment.
Overuse injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Stress Fractures
- Patella Femoral Syndrome/Chondromalacia patella
- ITB Friction Syndrome
- Bursitis(hip, knee, ankle)
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- Shin Splints
- Compartment Syndrome
So, what can we do to prevent them?
Know the warning signs. Pain that is sharp or does not stop/gets worse AFTER the activity is BAD pain.
- You start altering your gait/stride to avoid the pain.
- The joint/tissue feels stiff after periods of inactivity.
- You are popping NSAIDS like Tic Tacs.
- Your pace is slowing, but you feel like you are working just as hard.
You may already be injured IF:
- The pain has not resolved with 1-2 weeks of rest
- You need to take NSAIDs after every run and/or have breakthrough pain with meds.
- You cannot keep up with your training program due to pain.
- The pain subsides with rest, but returns with activity.
What Other Steps Can We Take?
- Make sure previous injuries have COMPLETELY resolved.
- Identify potential deficiencies that could lead to injury and address them before mileage becomes significant.(example-functional movement exam)
- Don't overtrain-don't change to many variables at once, respect the rest day, remember stress is cumulative throughout the day not just during the run.
- Make sure your cross training is actually cross training and not just using your running muscles in a similar way. (example-boot camp style classes and HIIT training can sometimes overstress a stressed tissue), listen to your body (see above)
- Seek Professional treatment in the early stages. Don't wait for the problem to become unbearable. Don't waste time on chats, blogs, google. See someone that can diagnose the problem and treat it, so you don't lose time, money, sanity, etc.
- Don't neglect your sleep, nutrition or footwear.
Finally, NEVER run if you are taking antibiotics in the Fluoroquinolone class (Cipro, Levaquin, etc)! They have been shown to cause achilles tendon rupture.