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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.
What is it?
The plantar fascia is a sheath of connective tissue that runs under the sole of your foot. The plantar fascia plays an important role in foot biomechanics. While running it acts as a shock absorber and stabilises the foot as it moves through the different motions that occur during gait. Plantarfasciitis is an overuse condition that causes pain normally felt on the inside of the heel and under the foot. It is typically worse in the mornings or after periods of inactivity but may start to feel better during activity. In more severe cases, bearing weight on the affected foot may cause pain.
Why does it occur?
Plantarfasciitis regularly results from activities that require maximal plantarflexion, so runners are high risk. Other factors that contribute to causing Plantarfasciitis include having abnormal foot biomechanics, high or low arches of the foot, reduced ankle dorsiflexion and increased BMI. Tightness in muscles groups of the lower body may also contribute to Plantarfasciitis as it may change running biomechanics.
What will help?
Treatment will include correcting any biomechanical faults by strengthening weak muscle groups in the lower limbs and strengthening muscles of the foot that will take stress off the plantar fascia. Soft tissue therapy will also be used to stretch out the plantar fascia and release tension in muscle groups such as the calf, hamstrings and glutes. Some people find self-massage of the sole of the foot using a golf ball or frozen bottle of water to be beneficial. Taping or orthotics may also be used to support the plantar fascia.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)