Running has always been known to be the most popular sport due to low cost and low barriers to participation. It has been linked to weight management and improving cardiovascular capacity however statistics show that 93% of individuals will experience musculoskeletal injuries during their participation in running.
The most common injuries that runners face include patellofemoral pain, medial tibialis stress syndrome (shin splints), Achilles tendinopathy, iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures of the metatarsals and tibia. Looking further in, men have reported more problems relating to hamstrings and calves whereas women mainly reported hip pain problems.
Risk factors for men and women have also been classified in their distinctive groups —
Men have a greater risk due to the history of previous injuries and their average weekly running distances.
Women are at risk as a result of their age, history of the previous sporting activity, running on a concrete surface or even wearing the same running shoes for over 6 months.
Although running is classified as a common form of exercise it really isn’t all that simple. Biomechanics of running are classified into various minute categories which are even further sub-classified. Gait mechanics, loading mechanics, stress-frequency model are just a few to mention. Running injuries are more common when these terms are not familiar to a runner — they are not to blame — and the knowledge of the biomechanics of running is beyond their comprehension. running injuries are attributed to several internal factors but stress & frequency are a main root of the cause.
The stress-frequency model
The stress and frequency applied on the tissues have a certain threshold they can hold when running and if this is below its injury threshold limit the tissue will be able to bear this and no further injury will occur. This is when an injury has not occurred to the runner but over time as tissue wear & tear progresses, it will eventually lead to one. Along with stress, running mechanisms will also affect the magnitude and type of each foot contact i.e was it bending, shear or tension force that was applied on the bones, consequently, depending on the type of force its resultant injury would occur to the runner.
For example, as a runner, if you are a forefoot striker — land on your toes while running — you end up placing a whole load of stress on your Achilles tendon and gastrocnemius (calf muscles) that they aren’t functioned to hold eventually leading to what’s known as Achilles tendinopathy.
Another great way to get injured during running is angular errors in the knee and foot — observances of foot and knee inclination angles when running.
The angle between the sole of the shoe and the running surface — For example, treadmill — are compared. A greater angle indicates a greater foot inclination which can be attributed to either a rearfoot strike or a forefoot strike — both of which delay shock absorption mechanisms which aggregate the impact vertical loading i.e Achilles stress loading.
In similar instances, knee flexion angles are also observed to measure influences on tissue stress and shock absorbing abilities. when runners are identified to run with greater knee extensions, they tend to put a lot of stress and force on their quadricep muscles increasing their working demand, but because they are linked to the patella (kneecap) this will load the knee beyond its capacity leading to what’s known as Patellofemoral pain syndrome.
How can a runner change this? Get your gait analyzed to see what category you fall into and work into strengthening your quadriceps to bear up more load and tension.
Other observances in running mechanisms:
· Contralateral hip dips
· Trunk side flexion
· Changes in hip adduction angle
Running is a great sport and form of exercise that has time and again shown multiple benefits to the human mind and body but if it is done right.