Running into summer? Or stumbling with shin and knee pain?
With winter out of the way and summer just around the corner, running-related injuries do tend to become prevalent across all ages at this time of the year. A reduction in the frosty mornings and an increase in temperature invite us all to become more active in a variety of ways such as swimming, joining a gym or simply getting out and smashing the pavement to shed some of that stubborn winter body fat. But a question you should ask is “am I ready?”
Months of hibernating throughout winter and occasionally going for a run here or there doesn’t prepare us all that well for the immediate increase in activity as soon as the sun starts to shine throughout spring.
The most common type of injuries we see this time of year are known as running-related ‘overuse injuries’ of the lower leg and knee. These common injuries will present when an individual has decided to embark on their fitness journey but is hindered by the pain experienced to their knee, shinbone or lower calf.
We have collaborated a number of injuries that typically present and the symptoms experienced.
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or “Shin Splints”
I am sure you have heard the term “shin splints” before and you may know someone who has suffered from them, but this injury can be very painful and quickly put an end to you enjoying the gentle breeze on your face as you run around the suburbs.
This injury typically presents after the individual has been relatively inactive for a period of time and decides to ‘get fit fast’. The symptoms of this injury is a dull ache and sometimes inflammation to the inside shinbone. This pain can subside whilst running or during activity but will quickly return once you have stopped.
Stress fractures of lower leg
A stress fracture to the lower leg requires immediate treatment and management. One of the most common sites of a stress fracture is to the Tibia or shinbone where a rapid increase in activity will cause muscle fatigue in the leg and a transfer of force to the Tibia. High levels of repetitive force, in conjunction with muscle fatigue, can lead to micro-fractures (very small breaks) occurring as a result of the body’s inability to balance bone breakdown and creation whilst under stress. Symptoms of a stress fracture will typically present as focal tenderness overlying the shinbone, swelling and pain at rest and during activity.
A stress fracture can be mistaken for ‘shin-splints’ and should be addressed as soon as possible to identify the classification and causative factors.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or “Runner’s knee”
Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) or Runner’s knee is characterised by a gradual onset of pain to the front aspect of the knee and is typically experienced by those who run frequently, engage in football or basketball or any other high-impact activity.
This injury can present progressively over time or quite quickly and can feel like a dull ache across the front aspect of the knee during activity, at rest or when the knee is bent/flexed. The pain will generally be quite diffuse across the front aspect of the knee and will linger until the causing factors are addressed.
Achilles tendon pain
One of the more common lower limb injuries experienced is Achilles tendon pain. This pain arises in the lower third of the calf region and if not addressed can be a debilitating injury for months on end.
The symptoms of Achilles tendon pain is a dull ache to the thick dense band connecting your calf musculature to the heel bone or a more localised pain to the back of your heel where the tendon connects. This calf/Achilles tendon complaint needs to be identified and classified early to prevent any further damage.
In summary, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is advisable to address it rather than persist through the pain.
At Beyond your Podiatrist Tom or Craig will assess multiple factors such as:
- your gait (walking and running)
- joint range of movement
- foot posture (including lowered & high arches)
- muscle flexibility and strength
- footwear and pressure distribution
From this point Tom or Craig will create a tailored management plan to best assist you in your training and fitness goals by ensuring your overall lower-limb and foot health is functioning at its optimum to remedy or avoid these commonly encountered running injuries.