Tackling the Top Running Injuries

For your convenience I have summarized and reformatted the answers so you can fully absorb the important facts in less time. To view the original article as it appears on active.com click here.

Women’s Running magazine, Breanne George asks Dr. John Gross who practices family medicine in Saint Petersburg Florida, with a specialization in sports medicine.

Q:  Based on your experience, what are the most common running-related injuries women face? Are there injuries women are more prone to than men?

A: Common running injuries experienced between men and women aren’t so different in themselves. However, the rate at which they occur in women is somewhat higher than men.

  1. Knee tendonitis (a.k.a. runner’s knee)
  2. Iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome
  3. Shin splints

Runner’s knee - usually the runner will have a weak vastus medialis oblique (VMO) muscle, which helps keep patellar tendon in line. A weak VMO muscle will cause patellar tendon to deviate one way or the other, resulting in inflammation of the knee.

IT band syndrome – inflammation of the tendon connecting femur (thigh bone) to tibia (lower leg bone). The inflammation can make it very painful to up or down stairs and stand up after sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Women’s hips are inherently wider at the hip joint compared to men. The angle where the hip meets the top of the kneecap is called the “Q angle.” With each stride you take, a wider Q angle puts stress on your IT band, causing inflammation in the knee.

Shin splints – mirco-cracks along inner portion of the large bone in the lower leg. Shin splints are associated with over training or lack of recovery. If untreated, they can become full-on stress fractures, which are true breaks in the bone due to over training. Shin splints cause intense pain across the front of your leg below your knee while running.

Q: How can you treat these injuries if you happen to get them?

A: Be honest with yourself. If you’re experiencing pain, you need to give the injury a chance to heal. When you have any symptoms mentioned above -

Stop running and start R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). For beginners, do R.I.C.E. under guidance of your physician. Experienced runners can do this on their won, as they are able to recognize injuries.

Take anti-inflammatory medicine – such as Advil, Motrin or Naproxen.

If injury doesn’t improve in 3-5 days, seek medical attention and have the injury evaluated.

In extreme cases, which are rare, these injuries can require surgery. However, more times than not they can be treated by simply allowing your body to recover and heal itself.

Q: How can you prevent these injuries from occurring?

A: Runner’s knee prevention – VMO strengthening exercises: knee extension and hip abduction exercises (squeezing a ball between your knees) 2-3 times a week. These are simple exercises that can be incorporated into workout regimens to maintain a strong VMO.

  • Resistance training can help keep you injury free.

IT band syndrome prevention – side bend and hip flexor exercises, which strengthen the lateral abdominal muscles and IT band.

  • For side bend stretches – stand straight and bend to one side as far as you can. Return to starting position. I recommend (2) sets of 15 repetitions for each side.
  • For hip flexor exercises – step forward and kneel on your right knee/ Turning your torso to the right to put stress on the IT band. Hold for 5-7 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Shin splint prevention – wear properly fitted running shoes and run on softer surfaces such as asphalt (not concrete). In addition, be smart about mileage and try not to do too much at one time.

Q: Is there anything else a female runner can do to stay injury-free?

A: To avoid all of these injures -

  • Warm-up – run or walk briskly for 3-5 minutes to warm up your musculature and then stretch. Studies show that you can decrease your rate of injury by warming up before you stretch.
  • Plan for rest – incorporate rest into your workout regimen.
  • Hydrate – for an average runner, you should rehydrate with 17 oz. of water for every pound that’s lost and drink throughout the day until your urine is light yellow or clear color. I recommend measuring your pre- and post-run weight.

These are all proactive steps to help prevent injuries.


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