Why do runners get injured?

I recently attended a course that was all about new trends in running and the causes of most running injuries. This was really interesting and a very new way of thinking which will be great for all our runners!

There were two main points:
*Running is good for you!
*Most running injuries are caused by overload or training errors e.g. doing too much too soon.

So firstly, running is good for you!

There is no reason why most people can’t engage in some form of running exercise. Recent studies have shown that running is NOT associated with higher rates of arthritis and may even help to improve cartilage at the knee and the hip. The other benefits of running have been well documented including weight management, improved heart and lung function, stronger bones, not to mention all the mental health benefits.

However, the biggest limiting factor to runners is injury.

But why do runners get injured?

50% of runners get injured. This is a pretty high percentage for a non-contact sport. Longer distance runners (>10k) tend to suffer with knee, hip and lower back injuries, whereas shorter distance runners tend to suffer from injuries to the calf, achilles and foot.

The main reason for injury is overload or training errors. This generally means doing TOO MUCH TOO SOON or CHANGING SOMETHING TOO QUICKLY. Our bodies are extremely good at adapting, this is the whole principle of training. We apply a training stimulus to our tissues and the body responds by adapting to cope with this new found loading to get better, faster, stronger, more flexible etc. However, if we stimulate the tissues with a load that is too great for the tissues to withstand, they are unable to cope and we are at risk of pain, stiffness or injury. But, if we load in a gradual way then the body will adapt and we will improve. The key however, is the load must be gradual.

Unfortunately, there is no magic number to how much we can progress, it is different for everyone, but a 10% change is a good guideline. This change does not have to be just volume of training, it is applicable to other change like speed, terrain, footwear etc. You must only change one thing at a time, for example if you add in a speed session to your week, then you should not change the overall volume in training and may even wish to reduce it that week.

Key Messages:
– Running is good!
– The main cause of running injuries is overload.
– Our bodies are great at adapting, but they need gradual loading to respond and reduce the risk of injuries.
– Changes in load can come from volume, speed, terrain, footwear etc, so never change more than one thing at a time.
– Only increase one variable by 10% at a time.

For any more information on running, the course I went to, training or injury advice please do not hesitate to contact me, Emily, at Back In Action Physio.