Why is running associated with so many injuries?

Running is a natural physical activity….it is what we learn to do after we learn to walk. Why then is running associated with so many injuries? Why does running receive so much bad press i.e. it is bad for knees etc?

Of course there will always be risk of injury when performing any activity there can never be zero risk but we can help to lessen the probabilities that can lead to higher risks of injuries.

So what are the leading causes if running injuries?

1. Training Issues – 80% of running injuries can be traced back to training errors. Training volume and intensity should always be consistent and gradually increased. Time off from training because of illness, injury or some other reason needs to be factored into the training program as should be adequate periods of rest and periodisation in training.
• Increasing distance or time of running by more than 10% per week
• Increasing intensity/speed of workout by more than 2-3% a week
• Increasing the amount of hills too fast
• Not having enough rest
• Training at too high an intensity. Endurance training ideally should be done with 80% of the volume undertaken at aerobic levels and 20% at anaerobic levels (faster speeds)
• Changing shoes without weaning them into training – there is such variety in shoes that this can mean large or small changes depending on the type of shoe used.
• The human body has amazing capacity to adapt but if the load of training exceeds the body’s capacity to adapt injury or illness will result.

2. Technique Errors – we all have our own individual running style but research has highlighted some biomechanical facts that have been proven to be of benefit, or hindrance, to minimising running injuries.
• The foot should land as close as possible to under the hip as possible to minimise negative forces
• The foot should NOT land in front of the body in a heel striking action as this causes the body to have to brake before it can accelerate again and this braking action not only slows down the runner but causes negative forces up the leg.
• Knees should be over the mid foot and not dropping into the midline or crossing over the midline
• The pelvis should be stable and should be balanced in the horizontal, transverse and frontal planes – weak core and gluteal muscles can be the cause of these errors.
• The head should not poke forward. The body should NOT bend forward at the hips – this indicates too much hip flexor activity. The body needs to be in alignment with ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips with a slight lean forward at the ankles.
• Shoes should be comfortable, light and flexible

3. Pre-existing Injury/Imbalance – often past injuries or postural issues can create imbalances in the musculo-skeletal system. E.g. if you sit all day for work then tight hip flexors and weak gluteals are a possibility.

Tightness or weakness in the thorax and pelvis often cause running injuries and these injuries can be at some distance from the site of imbalance.

A therapist can assess these issues and prescribe exercises and stretches and release tight structures.

Running should be fun and enjoyable and is an activity that associated with injury but following some of these tips may help reduce that risk.

Running technique errors are difficult to change without having your running style filmed and analysed and at Quay Health I can film your running style and discuss any changes with you. To book in call Quay Health on 9252 2825.

Jo Hadley
Quay Health