Common Running Injuries of the lower limb

Running-related injuries to the lower limb are almost always caused by overuse. This is primarily due to doing too much, too quickly, and too often.

The most common causes of chronic overuse injuries are training errors. This causes the majority of athletes to overestimate their baseline fitness level when they first begin training. As the musculoskeletal system is unprepared for this volume of exercise, this can lead to injury.

At this stage, Muscle strains and exercise-induced leg pain, such as Shin Splints, are the most prevalent injuries. If you return from an injury or are unprepared for a specific competition, or if you increase your exercise volume too quickly, you are more likely to experience these injuries.

Muscle strains are characterised by pain and tightening of the affected muscle group. They are typically caused by muscle fatigue and the accumulation of metabolites during vigorous exercise.

Hamstring tears can occur anywhere along the muscle’s length. The hamstrings will become tight.  Swelling, bruising and pain may be elicited.

Patellofemoral pain syndrome mainly affects adolescents and young people, females more than males. Pain may reflect from the inside of the kneecap and clicking often occurs after exercise and prolonged sitting. It is usually worse when descending stairs. It may be related to prolonged activities. Swelling can be seen in acute cases.

Middle and long-distance runners frequently suffer from Achilles tendonitis. Training errors and anatomical abnormalities as well as running shoes or boots with a high back may be the cause. It tends to have the greatest impact on young women training long-distance. Many running shoes are flat and subject the tendon to increased stretch and stress during running.

Ankle Sprains are common in both sports and daily life. Typically, this occurs when the ankle is twisted, and the foot moves excessively and abruptly toward the interior of the body. This causes ligament damage or rupture by stretching or tearing the ligament complex of the ankle. There is local bruising, swelling and tenderness to the touch.

Plantar fasciitis (policeman’s heel, heel spur syndrome) is the most common condition among runners who have recently increased their mileage, particularly older runners.  It is caused by overuse of the short muscles of the bottom of your foot which is often the result of excessive stress placed on this area during running.

In the muscles of the thigh, pain, swelling, and local tenderness are signs of muscle injury Adductor Longus and Quadriceps are the thigh muscles most commonly affected by injury which usually follows lunging, repeated sprinting, these muscles are susceptible to partial or complete tears. In the quadriceps compartment, direct blows can cause intramuscular haemorrhage and tears so extensive that they cause significant pain and swelling. This condition is known as “dead leg.”

Stress fractures of the tibia and the fibula are typically observed within the first two months of beginning or significantly increasing an exercise programme.  Approximately 50% of stress fractures in athletes occur in the shaft of the tibia. Stress fractures are brought on by repeated muscular forces acting on the bone or muscle fatigue, which results in a loss of shock absorption and causing the transmission of excessive forces to the underlying bone.

Stress fractures of the femoral neck are most prevalent in long-distance runners with a rigorous training regimen. This is caused by repeated overloading of the femoral neck.

Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury that affects marathon runners, ultra-runners and cyclists. This causes pain at the outside of the knee joint. Soft tissue swelling may also be present.

Popliteus tendonitis is another overuse injury seen in in downhill runners and skiers and those with excessive pronation. It presents as pain and tenderness on the outside and back of the knee.

Athletes who wish to exercise regularly need to find the optimal balance of exercise intensity, duration, and frequency to prevent recurrent injuries. Typically, this involves:

  • Participation in multiple sports.
  • Combine flexibility, strength, and endurance training.
  • Include weekly rest days in the training schedule.
  • Consider the training-intensive seasons throughout the year.
  • Utilize a variety of training techniques to maintain interest.
  • A gradual increase in training time and distance.

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