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Running is a great way to stay active and healthy but with an increase volume or intensity in training, injuries can occur. Here are some of the most common running injuries along with some advice on how to help relieve the symptoms and reduce your likelihood of injury in the first place.
What is it?
Often referred to as Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis, Achilles tendinopathy affects the tendon at the back of the leg. The Achilles tendon connects the muscles of the calf (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the back of your heel and helps with plantarflexion (pointing your foot). Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy usually develop gradually and include stiffness and pain around the Achilles region which is worse in the morning, but it often eases quite quickly. It may be sore when you start activity but quickly reduce as you continue and is often sore the next day. The tendon may be painful to touch and swelling may be present at the area of the Achilles tendon affected.
Why does it occur?
Whilst running, the foot should move through dorsiflexion during heel strike and plantarflexion during the push off phase of a stride. This repetitive movement means the muscles and the Achilles tendon are working constantly, in a spring-like fashion. Runners have a high chance of developing Achilles tendinopathy due to overuse, which disrupts the structure of the tendon and causes detriment to the spring-like mechanism.
Increases in loading are the biggest contributor to the onset of Achilles tendinopathy, whether this be from training or competition. Also, reduced recovery between training sessions, training on different surfaces and poor or different footwear are all factors that can contribute to the development of symptoms.
Predisposing factors for Achilles tendinopathy include gender – it is more common in males - type 2 diabetes and genetic predisposition. Altered lower limb biomechanics such as reduction in range of motion of the ankle joint and restricted flexibility of the calf muscles also contribute to Achilles tendinopathy arising.
Al & Ben completed the Yorkshire Marathon on Sunday 14th of October in a very damp York. Fortunately the wind of 24 hours earlier had settled down and initially it seemed like perfect conditions for a good time but it never stopped and was a miserable day in the end. Now that the dust has settled from completing their first marathon, Al and Ben reflect on the experience.
Ben - I wouldn't say that I hit the wall. My pace definitely slowed and I felt like I had lost power from about 16 to 21 miles, but mentally I kept strong and like Al, used a number of explicit phrases to ensure that I did not walk. I knew that if I walked, I would not get moving again. There was one point that was mentally quite tough, as I looked up to see a female athlete power walking in front of me and I couldn't catch her! In the end I got a second wind and went past!
Did anything help you through?
We raised over £500 for The Whole Autism Family. Al tells us "It has been brilliant to raise money for The Whole Autism Family. The charity is very close to my heart as it was set-up by my cousin and his wife in light of their experience of the support (or lack of) for families with Autistic children. It certainly helped to keep me going when it got tough."
How has the recovery gone?
Ben - In the grand scheme of things not too bad. The only thing that took a while was the calf where I have had a previous muscle injury. But after about 5 days it was back to normal. One thing that I have noticed is that I have felt drained for the two weeks since, and a couple of gym sessions have resulted in some quite heavy DOMS.
Al - I've been surprised by how quickly I recovered. I expected to be walking like John Wayne for around a week afterwards but within a couple of days the muscle soreness settled down. I think the biggest difficulty has been getting a decent sleep, I felt pretty knackered for the whole week afterwards.
Thank you to everyone who sponsored us and all the support we received in the lead up to the race and on the day, it was a massive help!
Since my last marathon blog post I have been plugging away with training for the Baildon Boundary Way. This isn't your usual half-marathon, as you can see from the photo it is often muddy and always hilly! I have posted previously about the race and my aim to beat last years time of 1:53. I am pleased to say I managed to beat that, completing the course in 1 hour 50 mins. I was a bit gutted to miss out on sub 1:50 by about 10 seconds, which was my aim before the race but happy to pull out my best performance on my fourth attempt.
I did struggle on the hills this time around, an ankle injury I picked up a little while back (I missed a step whilst carrying Billy and managed to damage my syndesmosis a bit) left me with very little power from my left leg from a dorsi-flexed position. It doesn't cause me any problems on flat and slight inclines, but left me with little more than a shock absorber on the steeper hills - and there were a few of those! Some strength, balance and power work to do over the next few months to get that one sorted.
After the race we did notice that a diversion that had been forced on the organisers meant another hill had been added to the course this time, much to our delight! The descent in this case was through a lot of mud and leaves, I managed to fall on my backside 3 times on the way down, hopefully nobody caught it on camera!