Symptoms and causes of 3 common running injuries

25 May 2011 - posted by Formthotics HQ

If you suffer from recurring overuse injuries, you may be well accustomed to how to treat the symptoms.  However, you may not know as much about how to treat the causes of common running injuries.

Formthotics are based on the philosophy that musculoskeletal pain stems from adverse effects of our modern environment and lifestyle, in particular the environment under the foot and modern footwear. This environment causes variations in the way the joints, muscles and nerves in our feet and legs work. This causes stress to tissues which often exhibits as overuse syndromes. This is intensified if loading is increased or the natural resilience of the tissues is decreased by aging or injury.

Runner’s Knee

What is it?
Symptoms of runner’s knee include pain on the outside or inside of the knee, pain aggravated by running downhill or pain during flexion and extension of the knee.  Runner’s knee, commonly diagnosed as Patella femoral pain, occurs when the patella femoral tendon becomes irritated.  The Patella femoral tendon runs from your femur (thigh bone), to your knee cap and inserts in to the tibial tuberosity – it aids in tracking of the knee cap during movement of the knee.

What causes it?
Knee caps are designed to slide up and down while you run,  if the leg’s alignment is off, then your knee caps will not track directly up and down because the patella femoral tendon will have a bow in it. The most common reasons for this dysfunction are weak front thigh muscles (quadricepts) and excessive pronation of the foot. Pain on the inside and outside of the knee can also occur due to this as the ligament and muscles connecting here can be over stretched.

Shin Splints

What is it?
Runners who suffer from pain in the front, inner leg often have shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome.  The pain often starts out as dull but then becomes more pronounced during exercise such as running. Initially this condition affects the muscles attaching to this area of bone but if left untreated this condition can lead to bone changes knowen as periostial reaction which may require surgery.

What causes it?
Shin splints occur most often in new runners or those who have recently changed their frequency, intensity, duration and running surfaces.  The new increase in impact can cause the lower leg muscles to become fatigued and overstressed.  This leads to inflammation and pain.  Some people are more prone to shin splints than others due to existing biomechanical foot conditions (like overpronation) that increase the stress on the lower leg.

Plantar Fasciitis

What is it?
Plantar fasciitis is a condition affecting the plantar fascia: the band of fibres that runs from the ball of the foot to the heel.  It usually manifests as heel pain that is most prominent in the morning, when you take your first steps, and may feel like a stone bruise. Generally this pain lessens during the day but is again prominent after sitting down in the evening.

What causes it?
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fasciia is over strained, becoming inflamed often at its origin in the heel .  When the arch of the foot is not supported properly, the plantar fasciia stretches more than it was intended to, resulting in overuse and inflammation.  Overpronation, which involves the flattening of the arch and a rolling in movement through the ankle and midfoot, is a common culprit in plantar fasciitis.  Other factors include tight calf muscles, new exercise regimes and weight gain, all of which can contribute to excessive strain in the arch area.

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