More people than ever are running. Each week, millions of Australians hit the pavement to run, whether for health or fun. Running is widely popular for its many benefits, including endorphins, muscle strength, and endurance.
But as with most types of sport, running can lead to injuries. One of the most common injuries is bone stress injuries, which can lead to ongoing issues with pain and poor performance. However, with the right input and the prevention strategies, it is possible to protect against running-related bone stress injuries.
What Are Bone Stress Injuries?
A bone stress injury is a type of overuse injury, often experienced in the shins or feet. It typically occurs in high intensity weight bearing sports, such as running. Repetitive load, particularly without adequate rest, causes a stress response in the bones. Common symptoms include exercise-induced pain or tenderness that persists for hours or days. Bone stress injuries are considered to be the precursor to stress fractures.
Ways To Prevent Bone Stress Injuries
Many different factors contribute to bone stress injuries, including muscle weakness, rapid increases in training load, and poor running technique or equipment. The following are some common strategies for preventing injuries:
Manage Training Load
The body does not respond well to sudden changes in exercise volume, intensity, or load. It’s important to allow time for the body to adapt to new exercises by gradually increasing training sessions. Use the “5-10% rule”, which means increasing exercise no more than 5-10% each week to ensure safe progressive loading. Additionally, incorporate rest days regularly.
Assess Running Technique
Running technique can impact how load transfers throughout the body. A heavy heel strike or dysfunction in the hip, knee, or ankle joints can overload vulnerable areas, including the shins or feet. A professional running assessment can help identify areas of weakness and make improvements to support running technique.
Invest In New Running Equipment
Got an old pair of runners that have been used for kilometre after kilometre? It might be time to invest in a new pair of shoes. The cushions, wear, and strength of running shoes can deteriorate over time, so it’s important to replace them at regular intervals.
Consult A Physiotherapist
Physiotherapists are trained to complete thorough running assessments to improve running technique and efficiency. This includes analysing posture, strength, alignment, mobility, flexibility, and more. Individual physical screening can help identify any deficits and incorporate specific corrective exercises to target problem joints or muscles. Modifications to running technique can also be made.
Attend Regular Exercise Classes
A physiotherapist may also recommend cross-training or supervised exercises classes. For example, clinical Pilates is an effective way to build strength and endurance for running, and prevent any musculoskeletal issues before they occur.
Bone stress injuries can be debilitating for athletes and continue to impact running enjoyment. At Evoker, our physiotherapists have the knowledge and expertise to prescribe exercises for all types of bodies and injuries. Try our rehab classes and learn the strategies to prevent bone stress injuries from occurring in the first place.