Did you know that 1 in 6 runners at the London Marathon will come into contact with a St Johns Ambulance first aider and an estimated 1 in 800 runners will have to visit an accident and emergency department during the Marathon? Fortunately most runners who make contact with St Johns Ambulance team members at the event simply require some fluid to rehydrate or a simple dressing to treat a fresh blister due to ‘chafing’ caused by poor fitting clothing and footwear.
We’ve put together a list of common sporting injuries resulting from marathon training and running.
Firstly before we consider any individual running related injury you must consider the following advice.
Pain is a warning signal from the body and although not all pain is serious, it may just indicate the onset of a small injury that can be self-managed. If you are experiencing any of the following you will need to start a plan of action:
- Pain while running or you are having to change your running technique to avoid pain
- Pain that occurs during or after running even if it goes away between runs
- Pain that lasts a day or more after running
Running injuries have a number of common causes including:
- Over-training. This is the most common cause and often occurs because no training programme has been put in place. Increase your mileage gradually by 10% each week. Suddenly upping those miles is a common cause of running related injuries including ITB syndrome, shin splints and stress fractures.
- Poor running technique that often involves over pronation. This reduces your foot’s ability to act as a shock absorber and shin splints and plantar fasciitis are common injuries. Get your running shoes checked and renew them before 500 miles.
- Tight muscles, particularly those of the hamstring, quadriceps and calf muscles. Remember to help avoid injuries it is important to warm up before and stretch after each training run.
- Stiff lower back and / or hip joints. Get them checked by your Physiotherapist or Osteopath.
If initial self-treatment of RICE; Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation does not help, you are in doubt or the pain or symptoms continue to worsen then you will need to seek professional advice.
Signs & Symptoms of Our Top 5 Common Running Injuries
Anterior Knee Pain covers a range of conditions that affect the front of the knee and patella (knee cap) which may often also be referred to as patella-femoral syndrome (PFPS).
The symptoms of runner’s knee include:
- A pain in the front of your knee that you can’t always pinpoint
- Pain that tends to be worse when running uphill
- Pain and tenderness behind the patella
- Pain and tenderness below the patella
2. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB)
The symptoms of ITB syndrome include:
- Pain is located to the outside of your knee
- Pain tends to be worse when running downhill
- Pain typically comes on at the same point during each run
- Although the pain remains constant once started, many runner’s find they can keep going.
3. Shin Splints or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS)
The symptoms of shin splints and MTSS include:
- Pain and tenderness to the shin bone which runs down the inner side, especially the lower part of your shin.
- Often starts as a dull, aching type sensation but can become very painful if not rested and treated
- Often comes on following running on hard surfaces or slopes
4. Plantar Fasciitis
The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Most people don’t know how to say it. It is pronounced “plant-ar-fash- eee-eye-tis”
- Pain under your heel commonly towards the front of your heel bone
- Pain to the inside (medial) of the underside (plantar) of your foot
- Pain on walking, running and typically after a period of sitting
5. Stress Fractures
The symptoms of a stress fracture are pain and include:
- Sudden onset of pain with no obvious cause
- Often a specific exquisite painful point on the bone
- Continued running causes continued pain with no relief
- It fails the Tim Noakes “hop test” – this basically means that if you hop on the injured leg/foot it hurts. If you suspect a stress fracture to the hip do not try this test.
Muscle Pain & Fever
Muscle pain is a common complaint both during training and after the completion of a marathon and even the most well trained athletes can suffer. Overtraining, new exercise regimes or completing a 26 mile marathon can all result in muscle pain.
Muscle pain occurs when muscle fibres are required to work differently, harder or for longer than they are used to. All of which many marathon runner’s muscles will be subjected to. Such actions on the muscle cause microscopic trauma to the individual muscle fibres that make up the muscle and can cause symptoms of stiffness, ache and even pain for 24 hours or more after training or a race. These symptoms are collectively known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as they typically peak as long as a day or two after the event. They are also referred to as muscle fever.
How to avoid ‘Muscle Fever’
- Always warm down and stretch after a run.
- Reach for the ice pack for the first 72 hours after the onset pain
- Try to stay hydrated. DOMS is said to be worse if you become dehydrated.
- Try Curcumin. A 2015 study showed potentially good reductions in men with DOMS leg muscle pain.
Be sure to apply hot and cold therapy where needed to help reduce pain and tight leg muscles. If you’ve followed all the options above and still experience muscle pain, consult your GP or Sports Injury Specialist to have your injury assessed as it may be more than DOMS.
Running a Marathon while raising money for charity is an honourable activity and we’d like to wish all London Marathon 2016 entrants the best of luck! Make sure you all take good care of yourselves during training and at the race so you can enjoy that great feeling when you cross the finish line and hopefully without injury.
And finally… Warm Up! Warm Up! Warm Up!
You’ve come this far, now if all you want to do is to make it to the finish line and reduce any chance of an injury stopping you achieving this don’t forget to warm up effectively. Be warned. There can be a lot of standing around on the day waiting for your time slot to start so keep this in mind when planning your warm up routine. And remember..do not stretch before the run, simply warm up. Stretching is for after the finish line.
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