Over the coming weeks with the build up to a number of running events all over the UK, I will be sharing a few interesting facts, figures, along with some excellent exercises and stretching routines to keep you on pace, reaching your goals and step over that finishing line in the time you hoped for.
Before we start though here are some runners stats relating to injuries that I thought I would share, just get your attention and get those cogs ticking over.
• At least 75% of distance runners land on their heels
• 19-79% of runners injured in a given year
• 60% due to training errors
• 55% one or more injuries in year leading to marathon event
• 50% runners get injured yearly
• 25% injured at any given time
• The Knee is the most common site of all injuries with 7-50%
– Lower leg 9-32%
– Foot 5-39%,
– Upper leg 3-38%
• Most common injuries include:
– Patella Femoral Pain, ITB syndrome, Tibial stress syndrome/fractures, Plantar Fasciitis, and Achilles tendinopathy
Referenced from Yeung et al (2011), Van Middlrkoop et al (2008), Fields et al (2010), Messiers (2008).
Most days as I walk along the river, I stare for what is probably perceived as an uncomfortable amount of time at runners who pass me by. As they totter along I can’t help hearing the same repeated statement ringing in my head, “If only you trained for your running, how much easier you could make that look”
Running is used by many of us for fitness, weight loss, meditation, stress relief or simply to get some peace & quiet away from our fast-paced lives. Participation figures from Statista 2017 show a staggering rise in running participation in the last 10 years with over 11 million of us in the UK hitting the streets as our weekly form of exercise.
The life of a runner is a constant battle between striving to improve pace, times and fitness while also trying to avoid the above-mentioned injuries along the way. A number of proven risk factors for runners are listed below, so take a look and let’s see how your risks add up.
• High running volumes
• Sudden changes in running style or frequency
• History of previous injuries to the lower limbs (ankles, knees or hips)
• Cavus Feet (high arches)
• Hip muscles weaknesses (Glutes, adductors, abductors, hip flexors and pelvic floor)
• Tight or shortened hamstrings
• Hyperextension at the knee joint
With such high numbers of us out there taking to pavements, tracks, and trails, it is no wonder that injuries associated with running are a large proportion of any physio's caseload. This means many of my clients end up asking me – "how can I avoid injury and keep running?" In order to answer this, we have to address a number of considerations.
First, we will start with imbalances in the musculoskeletal system: How many of you can raise your hand and say 'YES I STRETCH" before AND after each training session, honestly......?
A common issue that leads to running injuries is simply not spending enough time stretching, mobilising and training the muscles that are used in running .For many of us we will of been sat down in our daily desk/chair based work positions and then head straight out after work for a run. These types of preparation movements can be easily done at home*, in the gym or by attending group exercises classes such as Yoga, Stretch & Reset or Body Balance to name a few..
*Check back for our runner's flexibility and mobility post in the coming weeks.
Joint mechanics wise, a tightness though the calf muscles can lead to reduced range of movement at the ankle joint, this will result in a runner having to pick up the foot earlier in the running gait which eventually overloads the hip flexors and deconditions the hip extensor muscles, thus creating tightness in the hip flexors, which is a constant complaint of many runners. This muscle imbalance leads to a reduction in hip extension and eventually amalgamating in a decreased activation pattern of the important hip/buttock muscles that are crucial in the running gait.
Secondly, let's discuss adequate loading:
A common mistake I see clinically is that runners do not tend to manage load increases very well. Work and life commitments get in the way and all of a sudden they are 2 weeks behind in their training schedule, but hey ill be fine if I skip those two weeks and crack on right?..... Wrong.
If you increase your running from say 3km easy/steady pace per week and then up it to 10km at a moderate intensity 2-3 times per week, then the multitude of systems in the body that are being asked to increase their load so suddenly will inevitably begin to breakdown under the added stress which will lead to injury. A general rule of thumb here is a 10-20% week on week increase to allow the body’s natural adaptive systems to learn how to correctly handle the loads being placed upon it.
And finally the fun topic of running technique:
Who is to say what is right and wrong for you and your body? as every body is different. There have been a number of styles hitting the headlines over the past few years. We have had the barefoot, pose, midfoot strike, heel strike and the list goes on. Basically, in my mind, the best running form for each individual is the one that places the least amount of load on to the key joints, spine and associated soft tissue structures of the body. What we are looking for is efficiency rather than a specific style, one shoe does not fit all here.
The challenge with correcting or tidying up a runners form is that it requires an increase of body position awareness and excellent balance within the various muscle systems of the body. Therefore, non-running based stability, strength and agility training needs to be considered as key part of achieving the correct running form.
Recently in support of this, a fellow APPI Presenter Anna Law conducted a study into the effectiveness of an APPI Pilates Program for the control of functional movement patterns and its link to injury reduction in runners (Laws A, Williams S, Wilson C; International Journal of Sports Medicine (2017)).
The 6-week program consisted of matwork based exercises designed to improve core, hip, and leg strength as well as mobility and flexibility throughout the running chain. The findings were linked to a modified Functional Movement Screen that was delivered on 3 occasions throughout the study to test effectiveness.
Results showed that a well taught APPI Pilates program significantly improves functional movement in recreational runners and this may lead to a reduction in the risk of running related injuries. The findings of this study support the use of the APPI’s Pilates for runner’s program.
Over the coming month, I will share with you the signs and symptoms of common runners injuries so you can nip them in the bud quickly rather than running through them, My pre and post flexibility and mobility prep plan for all your training session to ensure healthy body care habits play a role in your ongoing training plan and we will explore the role of strength training and Pilates matwork exercises for runners.
So please get educated, stay informed and stay injury free. Sign up now for our mailing list at www.studiobua.co.uk and see how small changes can make huge improvements to both the speed, power and efficiency in running.