‘Problematic running injuries: shin splints and Iliotibial band syndrome’

Physiotherapist Orla Crosse of the UPMC Sports Surgery Clinic explains how to deal with two of the most common and problematic running injuries: shin splints and Iliotibial band syndrome.

Two of the most common running-related injuries I see in the clinic, and indeed in my own running group, are shin splints and Iliotibal band syndrome. If you have a race or event coming up they can put a serious wall in front of you, bringing you to a painful stop each time you put on your runners. Frustration! I’ve heard it all, from ‘try golf ball massage’ to ‘change runners frequently’ and ‘regular deep tissue massage on the shin bone’. The good news, though, is that you can control many variables that cause these issues, you can change the situation. Such overuse conditions are usually affected by your running biomechanics (how you run), leg strength and flexibility. Research has shown that many common running injuries such as ITB symptoms and shin splints could have been prevented if deficits had been identified and addressed earlier. Sports physiotherapists can identify in advance whether physical limitations or deficits exist which may lead to or delay the recovery of current injuries.

Shin Splints

This term relates to pain below the knee in the front of the shins. Most of us have experienced pain along the front of our shins either during or after a run at some point.

Shin splints are caused by many issues which a chartered physiotherapist can discuss with you. Overpronation, worn shoes and inadequate stretching regime or running continuously on a deviated surface (Irish country roads!) are influential factors. True shins splints often occur because of an imbalance between the muscles at the back of your leg (calf) and the front (tibialis anterior).

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

This is an umbrella term for knee pain that can present on the outside of your knee. It is a stubborn and nagging injury and usually occurs after an amount of mileage has built up, but can also affect those new to running.

The underlying causes of pain with ITBS are varied but tend to have a few common threads between patients. Overuse and inflexibility can shorten the ITB. Also, ITB length is influenced by our leg biomechanics or ‘hip – knee – foot’ alignment. Runners who develop ITB pain may overpronate, have a leg length discrepancy, and suffer from weak hip abductor or gluteal muscles. When the ITB reaches the knee it becomes narrow and friction can occur between it and the underlying bone; this causes inflammation, thickening and pain.

Click here for the full article in which physiotherapist, Orla Crosse recommends treatments for these common running injuries.

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