With the London Marathon just passed, you may well be feeling motivated to get your trainers on, and get out to enjoy some outdoor fitness. There is no doubt that running is a good cardiovascular sport but novices and top athletes alike face injuries to hips, muscles and knees caused by the hard, repetitive impact that hitting the ground has. In order to ensure that you remain injury free, and remember your runs for all the right reasons, Winchester GP has called in the experts, in the form of surgeons Mr Datta and Mr Jennings of the Hip & Knee Clinic, who have very kindly given us their run down of typical running injuries, and how to address them.
What injuries do runners ‘typically’ get and how can they be treated?
No one has a crystal ball when it comes to predicting who will or will not develop hip and knee problems. The best advice is to practice common sense, listen to your body and see your doctor if you do have pain that lasts for more than a few days.
Common hip and knee problems that runners face are:
Hip problems: ‘IT band’ or ‘snapping hip’ is very common in runners and is caused by the tendons becoming thickened (mainly due to frequent exercise) and catching over the bony prominence of the hip. This condition presents as a snapping or popping sensation when the hip is bent up or straight and causes pain on the outside of the hip.
Solution: Physiotherapy can be very effective and may involve analysis and modification of running technique. Orthotics may also be supplied if appropriate.
Groin problems: If you are getting persistent groin pain whilst running then this could be from the hip joint itself as true hip pain is more often felt in the groin rather than on the outside of the hip.
Solution: First, stop running! If the problem persists then see your doctor. It is likely he or she will advise you see a hip specialist as Hip pain can be caused by many different conditions.
Muscle problems: muscle strains and tears are common. Calves, hamstrings, quads are the most likely muscles to incur injuries through running
Solution: These types of injuries can be avoided with adequate pre and post exercise stretching. If you do pull or tear a muscle, rest the leg, ice it and take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Elevate your leg on a cushion to aid healing. If symptoms don’t settle then it may be advisable to seek further advice.
Knee problems: Patella tendonitis is a common problem in runners and is an inflammation of the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. Left unattended and untreated the tendon can degenerate leading to Patella Tendinosis. Pain is felt just below the knee cap.
Solution: This can be eased with physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee. You will need to ease off your training until the knee has recovered – likely to be around 6 weeks. Reoccurrence is not uncommon.
Locking/clicking knee: If your knee locks or clicks whilst running or you get pain behind the knee cap this may originate from cartilage or meniscal damage in the knee joint
Solution: Immediately after incurring the injury, rest and elevate the leg and reduce the swelling with ice and anti-inflammatory painkillers. If the problem persists, it may be prudent to see a knee specialist who can advise on the appropriate course of physiotherapy and arrange an MRI if needed.
To reiterate, the best advice is to listen to your body and see your doctor if you have pain that lasts for more than a few days. Winchester GP can give you an excellent initial opinion and refer you on to The Hip & Knee clinic or any the other therapeutic field, as indicated above.
For more information on the conditions listed and to learn more about Mr Datta and Mr Jennings, please see www.hipandkneeclinics.com
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