Thursday, 20 February 2014

Understanding and Treating Common Running Injuries - Annie Yee

Injuries are a common occurrence for athletes, more so for weekend warriors. Team athlete Annie was plagued by injuries during the 2013 running season where she was well below her best form. Here, she guides us through some common injuries faced by runners, which would be a good reference especially for beginners. Acceptance (of injury) is indeed the first step to recovery. Thanks Annie for sharing!

Last year was an unlucky year for me. I had my serious injury for almost 6 months due to the ignorance of my injury and ego of myself. Lessons learnt and I, now learning to be more respectful to the injury and do my own research to find out each injury, symptoms, treatments to understand more about the injuries when I couldn't run during the period of suffering.
Annie In Action during PNM 2013. Thanks Victor for the pic.
Listed below are the common running injuries which I summarized for the comprehension of runners especially for beginners. Always remember, DON’T BE DISAPPOINTED when you are injured and can’t go out running. However, to be more specific and to know the root cause of each injury, I have always suggested runners to spend some time to meet up with a rehab specialist to understand your own body. Our partnership with GetActive provides us that outlet to learn more and how to handle injuries when it occurs. GetActive are certified rehabilitation trainers and specialists.
  • Blisters -Small pocket of fluid within the upper layers of the skin, typically caused by forceful rubbing (friction), burning, freezing, chemical exposure or infection. Blisters are very common among the runners when unsuitable shoes or socks; and
  • Chafing – Repetitive friction and it is generated through skin to skin contact. General, female runners always have chafing if they are not wearing proper sport bras or inner thigh. Whereas male runners have always chafing on their nipples. Examples of chaffing:
Nipples Chaffing  - Image from Internet. Source not available
Chaffing from sports bra/strap - Image from Internet. Source not available
Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) strap chaffing - Image from
It is not surprised to see runners bleed during races. This could be due to the wear they are wearing. Or, you find out your armpit, inner thigh, area around the chest have red, painful marks and the pain exaggerated when you take shower.  ~~~Ouuch!!!~~

The Usual Suspects (of running injuries)
Then, comes to running injury of our most treasured legs! I summarised some common injuries that we have normally heard from runners or when you browsed in Facebook, you will realised runners post some terms such as ITBS, shin splits and etc.

·         Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) - A syndrome characterised by pain or discomfort seemingly originating from the contact of the posterior surface of the patella (back of the kneecap) with the femur (thigh bone).
·         Achilles Tendinitis - The Achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles to the back of the heel. Under too much stress, the tendon tightens and becomes irritated. This symptom happens if dramatically in increasing mileages.

I have heard quite some runners faced this problem when they increase in speed works and hill training:
·         Iliotibial Band Syndrome  (IBTS) – This is the one of the common injury suffered by runners whereby cause lateral knee pain in runners. ITBS symptoms range from a stinging sensation just above the knee joint, to swelling or thickening of the tissue in the area where the band moves over the femur. The stinging sensation just above the knee joint is felt on the outside of the knee or along the entire length of the iliotibial band. Pain may not occur immediately during activity, but may intensify over time. Pain is most commonly felt when the foot strikes the ground, and pain might persist after activity.
·         Plantar Fasciitis -Small tears or inflammation of the tendons and ligaments that run from your heel to your toes. This is due to the pronation and supination.

This is one of the injury that always suffered by runners:
·         Shin Splints - Refers to medial tibial stress syndrome, an achy pain that results when small tears occur in the muscles around your tibia (shin bone). Increasing activity, intensity, and duration too quickly leads to shin splints because the tendons and muscles are unable to absorb the impact of the shock force as they become fatigued.

Fixing Injuries Pragmatically
When you have symptoms which mentioned above, it is always advisable to rest or you will end up make the injuries even severe. (Don’t be like stubborn Annie). There are some basic treatments which I found were really useful. I am not sure these treatments are useful for some runners but I would suggest doing as:

1. RICE. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.
REST – Totally no running during this period. Or else, you will end up with disappointment and inevitable pain. I was very down when I tried during my injury period. I was very stubborn and not listened to my friends’ advices. Finally, it exaggerated the pain.

ICE – Apply ice on the area you feel pain as many times as you can. The easiest way is to cover ices with handkerchief and massage the area. This is definitely useful. During my injury period, I applied ice once I get back from working, when reading story books, when talking to phone etc.

COMPRESSION – Don’t be lazy to wear compression when you’re sleeping. It really makes a big difference after overnight.  This can be explained by compression wear helps improve venous return and oxygenation back to muscles. Apart from this, it does really relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness. I used to wear compression wear during working. It aids for individuals who have problem of edema. For those of you who would like to try out compression wear, Kraftfit (available on make very good compression outfits at a very affordable price point. Worth trying!

ELEVATE - Place your feet up higher when sitting or laying down. Elevation the sore part allow blood to flow back easier and aid the recovery and lessen the pain. 

2. Spend time to consult sport therapist – You name it, there are so many sport therapists all over Malaysia. Human tend to be lazy and think the pain will be reduced sooner. It is always advisable instead of wasting time of waiting time than meeting up a sport therapist.

3. Alter to other aerobic exercises – If you feel the pain is unbearable, why don’t go for swimming or cycling? Okay, if you don’t have a bike or a swimming pool nearby, let’s you-tube and follow some aerobic dances or yoga.

4. Add in strength training and conditioning. Muscle imbalance effects your run. Do more, run more, finish stronger.

In nutshell, please TAKE TIME OFF if you have injuries. We are not running just for the short term but for the rest of our lives. :)


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