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Running and Overuse Injuries

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Matthew Robbins – PT, DPT, CSCS

Recreational and competitive running is a booming phenomenon among the general public. The number of marathon finishers has increased from 25,000 in 1976 to over 500,000 in the year 2013. Even more impressive is the dramatic increase in female participants in running races, accounting for 10 percent of marathon finishes in 1980 and an astounding 43 percent in 2013. Half marathons have seen an even greater influx of participants with their numbers increasing from 300,000 in 1990 to almost 2 million in 2013. Women runners make up over 60 percent of those half marathon participants.

Unfortunately, most runners find themselves battling overuse injuries before they can ever make it to the starting line. The common ‘10 percent rule’ used for weekly mileage increases is widely used, but not well supported by medical research. In fact, studies have shown that running injuries do not significantly increase until breaking a 30 percent increase in mileage over a two-week period.

Research has also shown a significant correlation between the type of training error and the overuse injury associated with it. For example, runners that increase their pace too rapidly are more likely to incur Achilles tendinopathy, hamstring strains, tibial stress fractures, and iliopsoas strains (hip flexor strain). On the other hand, runners that increase their distance and overall mileage too rapidly are more likely to experience iliotibial band syndrome (IT band pain), patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee), patellar tendinopathy (jumper’s knee), and medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints).

A skilled physical therapist can help properly diagnose overuse injuries and potential underlying causes along the kinetic chain to help runners get back to doing what they love most: running. If you are a recreational or competitive runner, make an appointment with one of our physical therapists to help treat any existing overuse injuries and help prevent future ones from occurring.


About the PT

Matthew Robbins, PT, DPT, CSCS is a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. Earning his Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, he then went on complete his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Matthew not only effectively treats endurance athletes, but is an active athlete himself. He’s competed in more than 100 races to date including Ironman Louisville, Memphis St. Jude Marathon, and the Collegiate Track National Championship. Enduring three previous ACL reconstructions, he truly understands the complications and patience involved in the recovery process. Matthew enjoys treating patients with low back pain and knee injuries, as well as aiding in their recovery and the restoration of their active lifestyles.



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