Data shows a single running injury could have life-long consequences, slowing down your pace long after it’s healed. Here’s what you need to know.
How healthy is yourbody? If you’vebeen injured in thepast, it may not bein as good shapeas you think.Researchers havediscovered that simply spraining anankle could change the way you moveforever, even after it’s healed. Thescientists from the University of NorthCarolina in America report that a pastankle sprain could linger for life, resultingin prolonged discomfort, an increased riskof re-injury and chronic disability.Furthermore, if you’ve suffered asprained ankle, you may experience poorerbalance, slower running speed and evena reduced number of daily steps. Theoutlook is bleak – but it needn’t be thatway. While the best way to avoid painfulconsequences is to prevent an injury fromhappening in the first place, experts agreethat seeking a professional diagnosis andrehabilitative treatment can ensure youovercome the setback. In the case of asprain, for example, you might want toconsider doing some balance training tostrengthen the muscles and ligaments thatsupport the ankle. It’s a good thing there’sa cure, as data shows that as many as 50per cent of runners get injured every year.Here are four injury bounce-backstrategies to get your body in balance again.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE Photo Gallery
RUNNER’S KNEE(patella tendonitis)
Knee damage makes up a whopping 40per cent of running injuries. Overuse andthe impact of seven times your bodyweightare to blame. Watch out for swelling – thisis a red flag that there’s cartilage damage.THE FIX: Don’t be tempted to pop apainkiller. Ian McDermott, consultantorthopaedic surgeon specialising in kneeand sport injuries, warns that it can bepotentially more damaging to take ananti-inflammatory and carry on regardless.Inflammation of the tendon (tendonitis) ordegeneration (tendinosis) normally settleswith rest but physiotherapy will help youto recover quicker,’ he says. ‘If symptomspersist, you may need an ultrasound-guided steroid injection or, in more severecases that won’t settle, it might benecessary to resort to surgery.’ Injuryprevention is easier, and the best way toavoid getting any type of knee injury inthe first place is to gradually increase yourtraining mileage and intensity. It also helpsto invest in decent trainers. ‘The goldstandard is to have a video gait analysisperformed by a qualified physiotherapistor biomechanist, as many people havebad habits or postural deficiencies that willrespond well to appropriate retraining. TrySaucony Stride Lab (stridelab.co.uk).
Worn out shoes or training onhard terrain could be to blame for thiscommon running injury. Be careful if you’renew to running, as beginners are knownto be specifically at risk.THE FIX: Feel pain over the front of yourshin? Stop running now. While the painof shin splints can alleviate as you train,experts agree that the number one wayto prevent shin splints from turning intosomething more severe such as a stressfracture (which can take months to healand require a cautious return to running)is to treat the injury early. ‘The pain willPHOTOGRAPHY: iStocksometimes return once the exercise hasstopped,’ explains James Newman,consultant orthopaedic surgeon for theYorkshire Knee Clinic at Spire Methley ParkHospital. ‘The muscles at the front of theshin are pulling at the external lining ofthe bone and it’s this lining that becomesinflamed.’ Identifying the underlying causeof the injury is the only way to overcomethis one. Worn-out footwear, poor warm-upand cool-down habits, a lack of flexibilityand even running often on hard surfacesare all danger zones for shin splints. ‘Shinsplints are less likely if you gradually buildup your fitness levels,’ adds Newman. ‘Andif you get pain with minimal training, trylooking at your trainers.’
Nearly half the population suffersfrom back pain at some point, whichactivities such as running can exacerbate.Studies show that tight hip-flexor andhamstring muscles can be the causeof back pain among runners.
THE FIX: Lower-back problems? Thegood news is that running might help ratherthan hinder the issue. One French studyreports that nearly 50 per cent of runnerswith a history of back pain found half-marathon training improved symptoms,while 27 per cent said the symptomsworsened. Still in pain? Sports massagemay help, but experts suggest watchingfor signs of a more severe issue: ‘Runningcauses recurrent impact which can causedehydration of the lumbar intervertebraldiscs and adversely impact on the facetjoints,’ explains Rajiv Bajekal, consultantorthopaedic surgeon at Highgate PrivateHospital. ‘This can predispose you toslipped discs.’ Watch where you tread– Bajekal points out that soft ground canimprove back pain. It’s also worth usingdifferent pairs of running shoes to train inand rotating their use, and doing regularcore training to support the back muscles.
Marked by pain along the plantar fascia,the connective tissue that runs from theheel to the ball of the feet, this conditioncan last up to three months. The chanceof complete recovery is good, but youneed to quash what’s causing the issue.
THE FIX: Plantar fasciitis is often causedby a change in training, whether that’sincreased mileage, faster pace, change ofterrain or footwear or even switching fromsteady runs to interval sessions. ‘Mostrunners will return to their pre-injury levelof running without any issues,’ says AdamBellis, physiotherapist at Nuffield Health.‘But they must gradually reintroduce thething that triggered the condition in the firstplace.’ To avoid the condition, graduallyprogress with your training and avoid anysudden changes of footwear, technique orterrain. It’s also worth doing weekly calf-,ankle- and foot-strengthening moves.
Try one of these home tools to soothe and strengthen an injured zone
1. Matt Lovell’s new R5 RecoveryAmino blend is full of amino acids,minerals and vitamins to helprebuild tissue, support your gutand get you feeling your best(£39.99; aminoman.com).
2. Ease your tired muscles, reduceinflammation and improve yourblood circulation with the newWaveblade advanced sportsmassage tool(£143.99; amazon.co.uk).
3. Strengthen your knees, glutesand hip flexors to prevent injurywith this Bodyism Exercise Band(available in easy, medium andhard, £12 each; bodyism.com).
4. Pukka Herbs’ new Active 35 Oilis packed with healing turmeric.Simply massage onto sore jointsand muscles for relief and support(£12.95; pukkaherbs.com).
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