Avoiding Running Injuries At The British Athletics International Match
This weekend will see some of the world's best athletes arrive in Glasgow to complete in the International Match, a great chance to see everyone in action before the Commonwealth Games later in the year.
Glasgow plays host to the British Athletics International Match in what is being billed as an opportunity to see the world's best practice ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
The event will be hosted at the Emirates Arena following a successful event last year where the British team compete against other nations in a head to head style tournament. The event will also cover a number of disciplines including the long jump, pole vault, high jump, hurdles, relay and varying running distances ranging from 60 metres to 3,000 metres.
As it is the first major event of the year the athletes should be in fine form and ready to go, though staying fit will be at the forefront of their minds with the Commonwealth Games just around the corner. This article focuses on some f the most common running injuries encountered, the majority of which the athletes this weekend will have encountered in their careers..
Common running injuries
Running injuries typically occur in the lower body, affecting the joints and muscles in the legs with vary degrees of severity. The majority of injuries are as a result of overuse and are considered self-limiting as they will heal given an appropriate amount of rest. It is important to note that should an injury fail to show signs of improvement within a couple of days then you should speak with a clinician for a professional diagnosis and seek a comprehensive treatment programme.
The two main joints where running injuries can strike are the ankle and knee, with runners experiencing a variety of injuries during their career with the majority as a result of overuse with athletes expecting to recover within a few days.
The most common form of ankle injury is a simply sprain, where you may have rolled it by slipping on a wet surface or landing awkwardly from a jump. The accident and emergency department sees over 1 million sprained ankles a year which puts an enormous strain on the NHS for what is considered a self-limiting condition requiring rest and ice to help manage any inflammation experienced.
A sprain occurs where there is damage to the ligaments, the tough bands of tissue connecting the bones and responsible for stabilisation of the joint. A mild sprain will take a few days to recover, whilst more serious ligament damage can require surgery followed by intensive physiotherapy to regain strength in the joint before an athlete is able to compete again.
An ankle support can be worn following injury to help manage inflammation of the joint and offer additional support during movement. The nature and severity of the injury will dictate the type of ankle support required. a soft support is designed to offer compression to help manage inflammation when mobile and is the most common form of support available on the market. Where there is damage to the ligaments a brace can be worn which acts as an external ligament to offer stability of the joint without restricting movement. Following a more serious injury where it is important to prevent side to side movement of the joint then a rigid structure can be worn.
For athletes the main muscle injuries which can result in a spell on the sidelines relate to the calf and the hamstring.
The strain itself occurs where the calf muscle has stretched beyond its capabilities, damaging the muscle fibres either through tearing them or even rupturing the entire muscle.. Whilst overuse can result in a calf injury it can also occur following sudden bursts of running or sprinting. Each injury can differ in its severity, from experiencing a slight pain to a stabbing pain which can prevent the athlete from walking, let alone running.
A strain will heal itself following rest, with 3 - 6 weeks on the sidelines a typical guide though if the muscle ruptures then surgery may be required followed by a few months out of action. It is important to rest following an injury to ensure that it does not develop into something more serious, perhaps changes sports to something non weight bearing like swimming in the interim period. A calf support can also be used to help compress the calf and manage any inflammation which can keep you active for longer.
Professional athletes have a team of people around them to monitor their progress and analyse any running injuries encountered to ensure they receive the best course of treatment that allows them to return to action faster.
For the average person who likes to go running once or twice a week a diagnosis can sometimes be difficult to achieve on your own. It is important to remember that there are no winners from running through the pain as you can cause more damage resulting in a lengthier spell out of action, therefore you should stop and rest for a few days before assessing what to do next. In the event that the injury has failed to show signs of improvement then it would be advisable to seek a professional diagnosis as the damage may require further treatment, whether in the form of further rest, surgery, physiotherapy, a sports braces or a combination of all four.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Regis discusses the use of orthotics for the management of sports injuries, reviewing injury rehabilitation through exercise and the use of bracing and supports. He frequently blogs and writes articles focussing on running injuries and methods of rehabilitation.