Continuation from my post “Common Running Injuries and Ailments, Treatment and Prevention (Part 1)”
6.) Muscle Pull/Muscle Strain
Muscle pulls can occur to your hamstrings (back of thigh), quadriceps (front of thigh), gastrocnemius (calves), or adductors (groin muscle/inside of thighs). A muscle pull is a small tear on a muscle that is caused by overstretching. Pulling a muscle sometimes produces a popping sensation when the muscle tears. It is an acute injury that can be very painful upon onset.
How to treat muscle pulls: Like any other acute injury, stop from your activity and rest. Immediately put ice on the muscle for 10 to 20 minutes, until the swelling has lessened. Seek medical attention to determine how much your muscle is damaged. For muscle pulls, you need to undergo physiotherapy treatments so that your muscles will heal properly. If you just let the injury pass, the fibers in your muscles will develop scar tissues which may hinder movement or increase risk for future injuries.
How to prevent muscle pulls: Muscle pulls happen on shocked muscles either because they are not properly warmed up or because you made your muscles do something heavy that they have not done before, or both. Make sure that your body especially your legs are warmed up properly before you run. Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes, doing both metabolic movements to facilitate blood flow to working muscles and dynamic stretching.
7.) Runner’s Knee/Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or PFPS is obviously a common injury to runners that its layman’s term is called “runner’s knee.” However, this may happen to other athletes as well. Runners knee occurs when the kneecap is out of alignment and stress is continuously placed on this misaligned joint. It is a chronic injury that results from wearing down of knee cartilage. Runners knee or PFPS can be recognized with pain around the kneecap when going up or down stairs, squatting, or sitting with knee bent for a long time. Some people may be more susceptible tight to this injury because of their anatomical structure (flat feet or misaligned knees turning inward), but tight and under-developed hamstrings and quadriceps are usually the main culprits.
How to treat Runners Knee or PFPS: Runners knee is an injury that will heal given its own time. But this doesn’t mean that you can run it off. Take an appropriate time to rest and avoid putting weight on your knees. While resting, you can do cross-training such as cycling or swimming to relieve your knees of the stressful loads of running and strengthen the muscles around them. Put ice around the area of your knee if you experience swelling, for 10 to 20 minutes every other day or until the swelling is gone.
How to prevent Runners Knee or PFPS: Your knees will thank you for doing resistance exercises. Do other activities apart from running like Pilates. Have your feet and knees checked – wear orthotics for your feet if you are flat footed. You can also wear a fitting knee support if pain comes back after treatment. Be strict about increasing your mileage to 10% per week. Run on level roads and limit your downhill or uphill runs.
The Iliotibial Band or ITB Syndrome causes pain felt on the outside of the knee. The Iliotibial band (ITB) is a long tendon that connects the top of the hip to the knee at the side of the thigh. It is commonly believed that ITB syndrome occurs when the ITB tightens and rubs against the knee cap. However, new studies suggest that Iliotibial band pain can be caused by tightness from hip muscles pulling the knee. This syndrome can be mistaken for knee pain since pain is felt almost on the same area. You can determine if you have Iliotibial band syndrome by bending your knee to a 45 degree angle and you feel pain on the outside of your knee. Getting an MRI may be the most accurate way to know if you have ITBS since it will show any thickening of the band.
How to treat Iliotibial Band Syndrome: The best way to treat this syndrome is to decrease your mileage or not run at all. Rest is very important to lessen the load on your knees and give time for them to heal. Get a massage to loosen up the muscles around the hips and thighs. Stretch your hips and thighs regularly. Foam rollers are starting to be popular, but you need to know how to use them properly to gain the most benefits.
How to prevent Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Warm-up properly for 5 to 10 minutes before you run, ensuring that your leg muscles are ready for the run. When you start to feel pain around the knee while running, slow down and refrain from running uphill or downhill. Decrease your mileage for the week or cross-train. Make sure that your shoes are not worn out on the sides of the sole and replace your shoes as soon as you can if they are worn out. Another thing you can do if you regularly run on a track is to change the direction of your run.
Have you experienced any of these conditions before? How did you recover?
Do you find these tips helpful?
What else do you want to know about running injuries and ailments?
Let me know in the comments!
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