For every 100 hours of running, a runner will sustain at least one injury and due to this will miss about 5-10 percent of their workouts. Most injuries due to cross country running are recurring issues. Common injuries stemming from overuse and improper training include runner’s knee, shin splints, achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) got its nickname because it is common among runners. The stress on the body from running can cause inflammation where the kneecap rests on the thighbone. The pain from runner’s knee can cause sharp or dull chronic pain that you may feel before and after running.
Strengthening and stretching your muscles is one way to decrease runner’s knee. Poorly conditioned quadriceps aren’t able to support the patella and lead it to come out of alignment. Having inflexible hamstrings puts pressure on the knee.
Shin splints is the term that defines the pain that occurs below the knee on the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints) or the inside of the leg (medial shin splints). Runner’s who do not build their mileage gradually or suddenly change their work out can feel the pain of shin splints, as it is too much, too soon.
Shin splints involve usually only one leg and it is usually the runner’s dominant one. Shin splints can be caused by a number of different factors such as inadequate stretching, excessive stress on the legs, worn shoes, and overpronation.
The achilles is the large tendon that connects the two major calf muscles to the back of the heel bone. When too much stress is put on the tendon, it tightens and becomes inflamed. Over time the achilles can be covered with scar tissue and if it is continued to be stressed it can tear or rupture.
Achilles tendinitis is sharp or dull pain close to the heel along the back of the tendon. Symptoms include limited ankle flexibility, heat or redness over the area, a buildup of scar tissue could be felt, or a clicking sound when the ankle moves.
Plantar fasciitis is defined as pain in the plantar fascia, which is the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the base of the toes. The stress of overused shoes and overpronation can rip tears in it, causing pain and inflammation.
Plantar fasciitis feels like an ache or a sharp stab in the middle of the heel or along the arch of the foot. It tends to strike those runners who overtrain and neglect to stretch their calf muscles or tend to overdo their workouts when doing hill and speed work.
To reduce the chance of an injury, there are some simple rules cross country runners should follow. They should always stick to the 10 percent rule, where you do not increase your mileage by more than 10 percent each week. This alone will reduce added stress on the body.
Warming up and cooling down the body is an important way to ease your body in and out of a work out. Also stretching your muscles and adding strength training will help your muscles endure pounding. And always wear sneakers that fit the form of your feet and replace them every 600 miles!
Did you know that you have Direct Access to Physical Therapy? No referral is needed. We offer the best Physical Therapy on Long Island where you can get help from our trusted and expert Physical Therapists. We have several locations on Long Island including Massapequa, Valley Stream, Wantagh and Lindenhurst. To start your Physical Therapy evaluation, call Advance Physical Therapy and The Physical Therapy Alliance at (516) 568-4444.