What causes running injuries?
Hi there it is Brad Beer, POGO’s senior physio and also founder. I would like to talk to you today about the key or chief causes of running injuries. Running is an incredibly and very increasingly popular sport, hobby and pastime. In fact we are actually in the second running boom as numbers of participation are sky rocketing. As exciting as it is we are also seeing an explosion of running injuries. As a physiotherapist and a runner myself the bulk of what I do and see a physiotherapy week inside POGO is helping injured runners return to running pain and injury free. In order to do that we need to discover for each runner what their unique contributing factors are. Everybody is different so every solution is slightly different as well. What’s interesting however is that it exists 5 key factors or causes of running injuries that irrespective of the running injury or condition will exist. They are considerations that must be looked at, assessed and effectively instructed around in an order for you or the injured runner to run pain and injury free.
Let’s take a look at what these are: The first cause of running injuries is your body. By that, I mean what is your body like? I make an analogy to my injured runners that their body is like a chassis of a car. Just like a car if there was any defects, infections, or inefficiencies in that vehicle then the car won’t run well. The same is true with or bodies. There are a couple of steps that we take runners through when we are looking at their body and the first is what I call a running screen. This running screen is designed to look for any tight areas, any weak areas, and any abnormalities that sit outside of what we know the body needs to be like in order to run pain and injury free.
The second consideration when it comes to your running body as a cause of your running injury is your mobility status. Mobility status refers in its simplest form to how mobile and flexible you are around your joints. There are 2 sorts of mobility, the hyper mobile person or the hypo mobile person, I do that with my hand as that is a simple test of one of several that we put runners through in order to determine what their natural mobility status or the genetic mobility status is, and interestingly depending on what your status is will largely determine the direction that we approach your running injury through. This mini YouTube clip is certainly not going to unpack that, so that’s something we will come back to at a later stage.
So, the first key cause of running injuries is your body, remember that’s your running chassis and your natural mobility status. The second key cause of running injuries is runner’s technique. This is a massive area, in fact I’ve been running what we call the ‘Run 101 POGO workshops’ for many years now and that’s a forum where I take runners whether they are injured or uninjured and I teach them the seven key principles to a great running technique. These principles will help runners to run pain and injury free and the other nice thing is faster. Some of these keys include: checking your cadence or turnover rate, your body position and minimising bobbing up and down to name just a few. If you’re not running with good technique you’re doing yourself a big disadvantage and potentially putting your body in harm’s way so that represents a major cause of running injuries.
The third cause of running injuries is your shoes. Many people run in inappropriate footwear. The biggest problems are: shoes that are too old that no longer offer support and also shoes that just don’t match your foot type. This is another big area that I’m not going to unpack fully in this mini clip however just to touch on shoes that don’t match peoples foot type, I need to stress it is important to have an expect recommend the right shoe for you. Now in recommending the right shoe it extends beyond what foot sort you have, or what foot type you have and the best shoe recommendation should actually take into account your whole running body, your running goals, your running background, your injury history and many other things.
The other problem I mentioned before with running shoes is running with shoes that are too old. When this occurs, there is extra load on the lower limb and this will have an adverse effect or your injury risk and it can go incredible high as a result of running in old shoes.
The fourth key is very problematic when it comes to running injuries, I’ve termed it ‘your train errors’. Now what does this phrase train error actually mean? Well in its simplest form, train error refers to the mistakes and errors that you as a runner make in your training. Now this is another big area that I could cover in an entirely separate YouTube clip so for the essence of today what I want to share with you is a couple of train errors that are very common. The first is one that any passionate runner has most likely succumb to at some stage and that is doing too much too soon after an injury. Another cause of train error is doing too much in general, too much in volume. As runners, we often mistake the fact we want to run further in order to improve we think that improvement can only come through doing that harder training sessions and longer runs. This isn’t the case particularly if you haven’t yet addressed and developed great techniques. Another key train error is failing to rest. I’ve written articles over the years and I’ve called one of them ‘the power of the rest session’. Rest is so important, yet it is so tragically often overlooked. Your body needs to rest in order to be able to recover from the loads that repetitive running creates.
Train errors: the last common cause of running injuries as I said at the start that overlaps any condition or running injury is your body weight. This can often be a delicate conversation that’s had with runners that are injured however as a physio I feel a very strong responsibility to ensure that my injured runners get a full and complete outcome. If that means I need to discuss with them sensitively and with compassion their body weight, then that is what I will do. To put it into context, your body weight will increase loads on you lower limbs and therefore your injury risk if it’s in excess of its ideal frame weight. This frame weight is a concept I’ve coined that basically refers to your ideal body weight. So, if your 5kg, 2kg, 10kg, 20kg, even 30kg over your ideal frame weight you can just image the excess stress, strain and load that that is putting on your legs. With that increase in load and stress goes an increase in injury risk.
So, to summarise, runners, fellow runners there are five chief causes of running injuries: your body, your technique, your shoes, your training errors and your body weight. If your recovering from running injuries and you’re not addressing these five common causes, then you potentially will not get a complete outcome. If on the other hand, you are not recovering from an injury and you are just simply taking out insurances I like to say to not get injured, then you to need to heed these five areas or five causes of running injuries.
I hope this has been of some help, I wish you all the very best with your running and don’t forget to have daily fun.
Physio With A Finish Line,
Brad Beer (APAM)
Author ‘You CAN Run Pain Free!’
Founder POGO Physio
Featured in the Top 50 Physical Therapy Blog