While running offers many health benefits, it is also associated with high risk of injury. Approximately 40 to 60 percent of runners have at least one significant injury each year. There are multiple factors involved in running injuries, but most are caused by errors in training or over training.
Some common training errors are high intensity running without rest days, sudden increases in mileage or intensity, or a single strenuous or long training session or competition.
Two very common running injuries are iliotibial band syndrome and medial tibial stress syndrome ( commonly known as "shin splints" ). Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse-type injury that causes sharp pain on the outside part of the knee. when running. The pain usually comes on at a constant point or distance during each work out. Factors that can lead to the developement of iliotibial band syndrome are training errors, excessive hills or running on a banked surface.
The treatment of iliotibial band syndrome includes a combination of reduced running, stretching and strengthening of the abductor muscles, orthotics when biomechanical problems exist, and injection therapy for resistant cases.
Medial tibial stress syndrome causes pain along the inside part of shin. Symptoms are initially brought on only with running but as the condition worsens symtoms may appear even with walking. Sudden increases in mileage or intensity is a leading cause of medial tibial stress syndrome. Other contributing factors are poor running mechanics and muscle tightness.
The treatment of media tibial stress syndrome varies according to the intensity of symptoms. Most runners need to stop running for a period of time until symptoms resolve.
Low impact activities such as cycling or swimming may be substituted. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises are also part of the treatment plan.
Some general guidelines to avoid running injuries are;
1) Gradually increase the distance or intensity of runs (increase mileage by no more than 10 percent per week).
2) Higher mileage correlates with increased frequency of injuries.
3) Don't run 7 days a week. Add rest days or run only every other day. On off days it's okay to substitute cycling or swimming.
4) Cross-train (low-impact activities) regularly to give your body a rest.
5) Softer running shoes are better.
6) Listen to your body. Don't run through pain.
7) Use proper running shoes and change them at regular intervals (approximately every 400 miles or every 6 months).
8) Excessive hill work and intervals can also be injury-provoking.