Running Injuries & How to Avoid Them
While running is a great form of exercise and one of the most fundamental forms of human movement, it is associated with some risk of injury.
Research shows that if you run regularly you have a 37 - 56% of getting injured. The majority of these injuries (50 - 70%) are overuse injuries to the musculoskeletal system (comprised of the muscles, tendons, joint tissues, ligaments and bones).
What's even worse, researchers estimate that up to 70% of injuries are likely to re-occur!
Yikes! With stats like that it makes you wonder why people ever lace up a pair of running shoes.
I've experienced a number of injuries myself over the years as well as working with hundreds of runners who've had injuries themselves.
Seeing how many runners were affected by overuse injuries and having them myself was one of my major motivations to study all I could about what causes overuse injuries, how to overcome them and even more importantly, how to prevent them!
Anatomical Location of Running Injuries
Based on a research review, the following table shows the bodily location of running injuries.
|Body Area||Percentage of all injuries|
|Feet||2 - 22%|
|Ankle||9 - 20%|
|Lower Leg||2 - 30%|
|Shin||6 - 31%|
|Upper Leg||3 - 18%|
|Back||3 - 11%|
|Hip/Pelvis/Groin||2 - 11%|
The structures of the knee and lower leg are most vulnerable to injury. Overall, 70 - 80% of running injuries occur at or below the knee.
Causes of Running Injuries
Many studies have looked at causes and risk factors of overuse injuries in runners. Unfortunately, there is still a wide degree of contradiction between studies and experts disagree with other about the primary causes of injuries.
Some studies found that previous injury, relative inexperience in running, racing and excessive weekly mileage were the highest risk factors. Other studies however found that running injuries decreased with an increase in running mileage.
Controversy exists regarding height, bodyweight, running shoes, training surface, age, lower limb flexibility, lower limb alignment, running on cambered roads and hill running as possible risk factors.
These disagreements occur due for various reasons:
(1) Different populations researchers were studying (whether elite
runners or recreational level runners were being studied).
(2) Different types of studies being conducted (a review or an actual experiment).
(3) Different methodologies used by the researchers.
But even though there is some controversy in the research, the studies still provide some good insights into the various risk factors for running injuries.
One thing that is fairly well accepted by almost all researchers is that having a previous injury is a major factor in getting re-injured.
The Negative Feedback Cycle
Overuse injuries are exactly what the name implies; injuries caused by over-use. Since distance running is such a repetitive motion it should come as no surprise that overuse injuries are the most common type of injuries sustained by runners.
A process known as the negative feedback cycle explains why this happens and why injuries can be self-perpetuating in runners.
When repetitive motion overloads the tissues and structures of your body it leads to changes in your anatomy and physiology (things like inflammation, bruising, swelling, stiffness, pain, etc).
The physical alterations lead to adaptations in your functional biomechanics and changes in kinetic chain function. In simple terms, your body changes the way it moves. These changes can be so subtle that you may not even be aware of the adaptations. They can start off as very small modifications.
The bad news is these changes in movement cause further overloading to your system thereby repeating the cycle until injury and pain occur. And so this is called the negative feedback cycle.
Reducing Your Risk of Injury
Research has shown less controversy in how to reduce your risk of getting injured if you run. Developing better running stride mechanics and neuromuscular control was shown to be effective in preventing injury.
This means that learning to improve your running style can go a long way to helping you avoid being sidelined by injury.
One of the first steps to reducing your risk is to become aware of your body's movement. That way you can detect any changes, even small ones, in your movement patterns sooner rather than later. And by doing so you stop the negative feedback cycle before it leads to serious injury.
The Core Running program is all about using different tools to help you understand your body better. It will help re-educate you on how to move and run better which will then lead to increases in performance while reducing your risk of injury.
To be honest I cannot guarantee you will never get injured using the Core Running techniques; there are just too many variables beyond my control. But I can guarantee that you will become stronger and a more efficient runner if you follow my advice as outlined.
(I think anyone who promises a training program or method will prevent you from EVER getting injured is either delusional or outright deceitful. The best anyone can say is that it will reduce your chances.)
The advice given on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat or fix any injury or medical condition. If you are injured, see a qualified medical professional (sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, etc) to get an accurate diagnose and proper treatment program.