Recover & Prevent These 5 Common Running Injuries

Check out these five demonstrations to see how you can keep common injuries at bay using kinesio tape.


Beth Dreher |

If you suffer an injury, your doctor may recommend cutting back on mileage or even taking a complete break from running. While downtime gives you a chance to mend, rest shouldn’t be the only part of your recovery plan.

“If injured runners don’t address muscle weaknesses and faulty mechanics, they’re almost guaranteed to reinjure,” says Dr Colleen Brough, assistant professor on the physical therapy programme at Columbia University in the US. Here, running injury specialists outline how to put common injuries to rest – for good. Follow the ‘active recovery’ advice as you ease in and build up your mileage. When you’re back at full operating speed, add the ‘relapse prevention’ tip to stay healthy.

Blue dot

Iliotibial-Band Syndrome

Tape 1

Active Recovery
When running, increase the width of your steps by a few centimetres to reduce friction between IT band and thighbone, says Dr Reed Ferber, director of the Running Injury Clinic in Calgary, Canada.

Relapse Prevention
Side planks strengthen the muscles on the outside of the hips.

Runner Beware
Skip the hills. On inclines, the knee stays bent long­er, which increases tension in the IT band, Ferber says. Avoid running circles in the same direction on a track, and roads with high cambers.

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Hamstring Strain

Tape 2

Active Recovery
Exercises such as planks, clamshells, and bridges strengthen weak glutes and hips, common culprits for hamstring strains. It may be helpful to work on agility. In a Univer­sity of Wisconsin study, runners with acute hamstring strains who completed a rehab plan that included agility work recovered faster and were less likely to be reinjured than those who didn’t work on their agility.

Relapse Prevention
Do bridge walkouts (with hips raised, walk your feet out, alternating right and left steps; the straighter the legs, the harder it is). This strengthens the hamstring as it’s lengthening, which is consistent with the action of the muscle during running.

Runner Beware
Avoid speedwork until your pain is completely gone. “The hamstring most commonly gets injured when the muscle is lengthened quickly, as it is when sprinting,” Brough says.

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Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)

Tape 3

Active Recovery
Increase the number of steps you take per minute by five to 10 per cent. Count your steps, do the maths, then try & find songs that are a slightly higher number of beats per minute. Riding a stationary bike can help, too. “Being on an indoor bike where you don’t have to worry about traffic can help you get a feel for a high cadence, which you can carry over to running,” Brough says. “On the bike, focus on activating the transversus abdominis of the abdominals and the gluteus maximus, which help stabilise the pelvis and improve running mechanics.”

Relapse Prevention
Runners who land with an exaggerated heel strike are most likely to suffer from shin splints. Increasing your running cadence will lead to a shorter stride length.

Runner Beware
“If you return to running too quickly, this injury can quickly turn into a stress fracture,” Brough says. Follow each running day with two rest or cross-training days.

Gold dot

 

Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
Tape 4

Active Recovery
“Hip and core strength is essential to eliminating knee pain,” says Ferber, whose research on the topic was published recently in the Journal of Athletic Training. Three times a week, do three sets of 10 reps of each of these exercises: standing hip abduction, standing hip external rotation, and standing hip internal rotation.

Relapse Prevention
Walk backwards uphill or on a treadmill set to five per cent incline (hold the handrails to avoid tripping). This isolates the muscles on the front of your thighs that help keep the kneecap in proper alignment. “While targeting the hips is key, research still tells us that quad strengthening is an important part of ‘runner’s knee’ recovery,” Ferber says.

Runner Beware
While you’re in pain, avoid running downhill. “Pounding down hills increases the force on the knee joint, and slows recovery.”

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Plantar Fasciitis

Tape 5

Active Recovery
Use over-the-counter orthotics in your shoes as you rebuild mileage. “Most athletes I’ve treated with plantar fasciitis have recovered more quickly with orthotics,” says Ferber. Once the pain has subsided, remove the inserts. Use a foam roller before running to loosen calves and Achilles tendons. Roll the injured foot over a frozen water bottle for one minute four to six times a day to reduce swelling.

Relapse Prevention
Strengthen the calf muscles that support the tissue on the bottom of the foot with heel raises. Work up to three sets of 20 reps four days a week. “Always do this exercise after a run or workout,” Ferber says. “Doing it before will put increased strain on the plantar fascia.”

Runner Beware
Don’t walk around barefoot, which can further strain injured tissue, Ferber says. And throughout the day, opt for supportive shoes over flip-flops or high heels.

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