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Common Injuries

1. Achilles Tendonitis
2. Ankle Sprain
3. Back Pain
4. Runners Knee
5. Shin Splints
6. Stress Fracture

Once you start trying to improve for a competition or a race there is always a danger of an injury occurring caused by training.

Types of Injuries

There are two major injury types. They are: acute injuries and overuse injuries.

Acute injuries occur suddenly and are the result of a rapid increase in stress on a body system. Something happens where a part of the body (like a muscle) is put under a great deal of stress for a short period of time and it suffers an injury.

Overuse injuries on the other hand are caused by a gradual breakdown in the system you are using. Training breaks it down and not enough time is allowed for recovery. Each time after that, it breaks down some more. Eventually it fails. This can occur in all of the same areas as chronic injuries. A major cause is imbalance between the two sides of the body. One side under more stress than the otherand eventually it gives way.

Combinations of the two are also possible. Overuse can create a weaker system which can be put under acute stress. Runners should constantly be on the look-out for any messages from their body.

Common Injuries for Runners

Achilles Tendonitis
The Achilles tendon on the back of the foot above the heel common suffer damage or become inflamed.
Treatment: RICE(wait 10 mins), do not stretch until there is no pain then gentle stretching, no hill work and maybe elevate the heel. Prevention: orthotics, running surface, speed/hill sessions on cold tendon.

Ankle Sprain
Treatment: RICE (Rest,Ice,Compression,Elevation) followed by an ice pack ( 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off).

Back Pain
Prevention: shorten stride, strengthen abdominal muscles, stretch, avoid hills and banked surfaces.

Runner's Knee
Most common injury from running mainly caused by muscle imbalance.
Treatment: RICE(Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) Ice for 10 minutes after running
Prevention: strengthen quadricep (muscles in front of upper leg), flexibility of opposing muscles (hamstring, calf), arch supports.

Shin Splints
Tenderness/pain on the front and slightly to the side of the lower leg.
Treatment: RICE(wait 10 mins), no hills especially down hill, no speedwork
Prevention: strengthen muscles around shins, consider orthotics,avoid banked surfaces

Stress Fractures
This is best diagnosed by a doctor, Usual treatment is rest, no running for 6-8 weeks.

Causes of Injuries

One of the most common causes of injury is a large change in the current activity you are doing. Any change can stress your body's systems and should be taken with care. Some changes are:
1. Change in running surface (running on a harder surface then usual)
2. Running speed increase
3. Running on hills (downhill is especially hard)
4. Running shoes (change after 500km)
5. Running too much too soon
6. Sudden increase in distance

Other factors which can contribute to injury are
1. Lack of sleep
2. Poor diet
3. Unequal leg length
4. Old/not properly healed injuries
5. Poor muscle strength or muscle imbalance
6. Not enough recovery time
7. Weather conditions :extreme heat or cold
8. Poor or improper shoe fit
9. Not stretching
10. Omitting warm-up and cool down.

Remember with any injury a doctor (especially specialising in Sports) will give the best advice.

Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

-Fariyal Samson, B.PE, B.Ed
Women in Motion December 1, 1999