Running is an activity that most of us prefer because it’s a simple and inexpensive form of exercise. It’s a great way to maintain good health with many health and fitness benefits, but it can also predispose us to several injuries. Most running injuries are due to overuse, which constitutes about 80% of all running-related injuries, of which 28% involve the knee.
COMMON CAUSES OF OVERUSE INJURY
An overuse injury is damage to soft tissues due to repetitive stress. Common causes include training or technique errors:
In running, overuse injuries often occur when an athlete begins to intensify a running routine with inadequate stretching and muscle conditioning. Similarly, a runner may acquire an overuse injury over long training periods.
OVERUSE KNEE INJURIES IN RUNNING
Some of the common overuse injuries of the knee associated with running include the following:
It’s the most common knee injury in runners, where an athlete experiences pain in front of the knee. A single-leg squat is often used to confirm the condition when it produces pain localized below the knee cap in the patellar tendon area, which is also often found to be tender on palpation.
Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
PFPS is characterized by knee pain, often behind the patella, that’s worsened with activities that stress the patellofemoral joint, such as squatting, climbing or descending stairs, and running. In addition, an athlete may experience the feeling of knee instability or a grinding sensation known as crepitus.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
ITBS causes pain in the outer side of the knee due to irritation of the iliotibial band as it rubs against the bony prominence or the lateral femoral condyle. Athlete typically complains of pain localized approximately 2 cm above the lateral joint line, which worsens with running and may be associated with a popping sensation.
TREATING AND PREVENTING KNEE OVERUSE INJURIES
Most overuse injuries can be prevented with a few simple but extremely important practices:
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RECOVERING FROM OVERUSE INJURY
If you suspect an overuse injury from running, you may have to take a break from the activity for a while, or you may engage in alternative training that does not stress the involved body part. Your program can also be modified to maintain overall fitness levels while recovering from your injury safely.