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MUSC Health Blog

Date: Nov 11, 2014

Guest post by:
Emily A. Darr, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Deanna Roberts, MS ATC
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

So you've been training hard for an upcoming race and you're starting to feel an aching pain in your knee. Or maybe you're a new runner that's been increasing your mileage at the expense of a sharp pain in both your shins. Running injuries are a common part of the sport, and unfortunately, up to 82% of runners will experience one at some point in their training. Given this alarming rate of injuries, awareness of such injuries can be important in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Bridge RunThe knee is arguably the most common site of injury with patellofemoral pain syndrome, AKA “runner’s knee”, affecting around 40% of runners. This is characterized by pain around and under the kneecap. Other common injuries include medial tibial stress syndrome, AKA “shin splints” which is an inflammation of the muscles and tendons of the lower leg characterized by a sharp pain, usually on the inside of the shins, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and IT band syndrome, which is pain on the outside of the knee that is caused by repetitive rubbing of the IT band against the outside of the knee.

Sometimes risk factors have a clear link with a particular injury, and sometimes there is a less clear link. Risk factors for which there is clear association with injury include:

  1. Increasing your mileage. Injury is more common when running over 20 and then 40 miles per week.
  2. Recent increase in training intensity
  3. Being new to running

Some risk factors which have a more loose association with injury may include:

  1. Changing your footwear or wearing improper footwear
  2. Running on harder surfaces
  3. Poor habits of warming up prior to running and stretching soft tissues
  4. Muscle imbalance and compensatory patterns

When dealing with an injury, it is best to listen to your body. Be sure to schedule rest days during your training, and take a few days off if your pain is worsening. If you are dealing with an injury that requires a few weeks of rest, pencil in some cross training days to maintain your cardiovascular conditioning. 

Pay attention to your training plan. If you notice a flare up in pain when running on the road, stick to a surface with more give like a turf field or soft track. Run on the side of the road that feels more comfortable and stick to flat courses if running up and down hills exacerbates your pain. When returning from a rest period, increase your training volume by 10% intervals to avoid overtraining and re-injury.

Can I run through an injury?

Dr. Bob Wilder’s Rules for Runners can quickly assess whether you should continue through pain.

  1. On a 10-point scale, pain during the run should be no greater than 0-3.
  2. Pain should not be severe to the point where you limp during or following the run.
  3. The long run should not be more than half the regular weekly volume.

Make sure to warm up before your run with dynamic stretching exercises that warm up your muscles and increase your heart rate. Include a cool down with gentle stretching exercises that focus on the main muscle groups worked during your run.

Running footwear has been a hot topic in recent years including minimalist shoes and barefoot running. Every foot is unique and every running style is different therefore a visit to a running store where a professional can assess your feet and help you decide on the best running shoe for you is well worth it.  Interestingly, studies have shown that when runners wear more expensive shoes promising more cushion or support, they suffer more injuries than runners who opt to wear cheaper footwear. There are no studies that show that running shoes actually prevent injury. Remember that the most important factor in finding a shoe that fits is to make sure it is comfortable when running, not just when placing it on your foot at the store.

If an injury continues to linger or worsen, see a sports medicine physician for further evaluation. He or she can provide you with a proper diagnosis and appropriate rehabilitation plan to get you back on the roads!

Running is a great form of exercise to engage in, whether it be in sport, with a running group, or participating in a color run with friends. These days, the possibilities are endless and so are the opportunities! With the proper training, equipment and rest, you too can have fun and be pain free during your run!

Guest Post by:  Brittany Darling, MS, ATC

The squeak of sneakers on the wood floor, a sound that must only mean one thing: basketball season is finally here. As fall sports are coming to an end there is little time for rest and recovery before the long season, and the last thing you want is to start your season off with an injury. Thankfully, there are some injury prevention strategies that can be utilized in hopes of staying healthy through the winter season.

Basketball in hoopThe first step is to ensure your child has all of the essential equipment. Although basketball does not have very many equipment demands when compared to other sports such as football or hockey, there is one important piece: basketball shoes. Basketball shoes are characterized by a higher ankle fit than most athletic shoes, and they also possess a sole specific for the basketball court that will prevent slipping and sliding. The high ankle fit helps to prevent against one of the major basketball injuries, the ankle sprain, which is an injury to the ligaments connecting bone to bone. Very often a child may cut to the side quickly or come down from a rebound and land on another player’s ankle, which results in the inversion or “rolling inward” of their own ankle. This is a frequent injury that can be prevented by wearing ankle braces. The ankle braces that lace up the front and have adjustable straps usually work best and can be purchased at any sporting goods store. They can take some getting used to initially, but are worth it in the long run.

Basketball is a unique sport that requires power, speed and agility. The demands of the sport can sometimes result in an overstretching of the muscle or too strong of a contraction known as a muscle strain. Strains can take place in the muscle itself or in the tendon, which connects the muscle to the bone. The most successful method for preventing strains is an effective warm-up. Especially as the weather is getting colder outside, our bodies need movement combined with proper clothing to get warm before performing quick and explosive activities.  Extra layers such as sweat suits are encouraged! A suggested routine might include 2-3 laps of light jogging around the basketball court, followed by a dynamic warm-up such as walking lunges, walking quadriceps stretches, arm circles, and walking toe touches. With this, the stretch is only felt in the targeted muscle group for a few brief seconds as compared to when you hold a static stretch that lasts 15-20 seconds. A dynamic warm-up combines movement with brief stretches of the selected muscle group. After initial warm-ups are complete, it can be beneficial to stop every few minutes into practice and ask the athletes to pick something that feels tight and give that muscle an extra stretch. It is important to always perform stretches correctly and to understand that everybody is unique in their abilities, so make sure children stay within their flexibility limitations.

Improving flexibility with stretching can help with another common basketball injury known as patellar tendonitis, or “jumper’s knee,” which is characterized by pain beneath the patella (knee cap) usually from repetitive jumping or quadriceps activation. A similar injury seen in teenagers after growth spurts occur is known as Osgood-Schlatter disease, which is diagnosed when there is a small bump formation that is painful underneath the patella. With either of these injuries, applying ice after practices and games can assist with any pain or inflammation as well as NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.

Additionally, since basketball is a physical sport that can involve some contact, a mouth guard is not a bad idea to utilize, especially if your child has braces. Elbows and hands make contact with mouths frequently when scrambling for a rebound and can cause significant damage to a child’s teeth. They may also experience contusions or bruises from this sort of contact. Compression sleeves with built in padding are made for knees and elbows and can provide some comfort and support to children who fall on the court frequently.

Before retiring cleats for sneakers, remember some of these resourceful tricks that can help your child perform to the best of their ability and stay healthy. Unfortunately not every injury can be prevented, so when one does occur be sure to consult your Athletic Trainer or Physician.


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