The Complex Nature of Running Injuries

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 8.14.44 AMCompetitive running and the injuries it frequently causes, is a booming phenomenon. 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% of marathon finishes in 1980 and an astounding 43% 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% of those half marathon participants.

Unfortunately, most runners find themselves battling overuse injuries before they can ever make that starting line. The common ‘10% rule’ used for weekly mileage increases is widely used, but not well supported in medical research. Many studies have found that running injuries do not significantly increase until breaking a 30% 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.

Whether you’re a seasoned competitive runner or just getting started, consulting with a physical therapist is the best way to develop proper form and avoid injury. Schedule an appointment with one of our expert physical therapists to get on track to a long, healthy running career.