Unless you’re a fully paid-up member of the “all-weather runners club” you might be forgiven for confining your running schedule to the warmer months when the days are longer and the chance of rain is less (although always a possibility here in the UK!).
For many of us, the arrival of the summer holidays is the signal to dig out our running shoes from the back of the cupboard, dust them off and start pounding the pavement. But, it’s worth sounding a word of warning as here in the clinic we often see an increase in people attending at this time of year for diagnosis of running-related injuries.
It is surprisingly easy to injure yourself if you are unaccustomed to running and out of condition so rather than risk spending the next few weeks indoors waiting for injuries to heal, take a moment to read our guide to avoiding common summer running injuries.
What causes injuries?
1. Not warming up (or cooling down) properly
By far the most common cause of running injuries is a failure to warm up properly. A good way of warming the muscles is to begin running slowly, building up gradually to the kind of pace you want achieve. At the end of your run, stretching can help to ease tension in the muscles and prevent tightness. Hamstring and quadriceps leg swings, where you swing the leg backwards and forwards with the knee straight, are recommended, as well as inner thigh leg swings, which involves swinging a straight leg in front of your stationary leg. It is important to stretch the backs of the legs to avoid hamstring injuries and problems with the knee and Achilles which can be strained if there is underlying tightness in the legs.
2. Incorrect footwear
Another common cause of injury is not wearing the right kind of footwear. Be sure to choose proper running shoes that fit you properly and provide the right level of support. If your shoes have been stored over the winter, check them for signs of wear. If the heels have worn unevenly it is a good idea to replace them as they will not provide the right level of support.
3. Pushing yourself too hard
There is a tendency to want to push yourself but going too hard and fast is a recipe for problems. Know your limits and listen to what your body is telling you. Your body needs time to adapt to changes in the pace and intensity of your training regime and your muscles and joints need time to recover. Experts recommend building your weekly training mileage by no more than 10 per cent a week. Try scaling back from time to time to give your muscles time to recover.
4. Ignoring pain
Pushing through the pain is always a mistake. At the first sign of atypical pain, which is pain that worsens as you exercise or that causes you to alter the way you run, you should stop and rest for at least three days. If the pain continues, see a specialist who will be able to diagnose what is causing the problem. It is important not to continue running if you are in pain as you could exacerbate problems and may cause long-term damage.
How W27 Diagnostics & Imaging can help you
W27 provides musculoskeletal diagnosis and imaging, expert advice and referrals to other medical professionals that can continue to help with your treatment plan. The team is involved in diagnosing a wide range of conditions affecting the spine, bones and joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Among the diagnostic tests available are:
- X-rays – these are used to diagnose fractures and dislocations, as well as other conditions affecting the tendons and joints. They may also be used to guide surgeons during certain procedures.
- Ultrasound – these use high frequency sound waves which produce detailed pictures of the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and organs. They can diagnose a wide range of problems including trapped nerves, hernias and tumours.
- MRI scans – these use radio frequency energy and a magnetic field to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. They are particularly good for identifying stress fractures and looking at bone marrow oedema, which are lesions that occur when fluid builds up in the bone marrow, normally in response to injury or conditions such as osteoarthritis. Compared to simple X-rays, MRI scans are more detailed and sensitive to conditions in their early stages, providing a more accurate diagnosis.
- Diagnostic injections – by injecting dye into symptomatic joints, followed by a CT or MRI scan, it is possible to evaluate the surface of cartilage, joint linings, tendons, ligaments and bones and to pinpoint the precise cause of pain.
- CT scans – these use X-rays to create a detailed 3D image of the inside of the body. They are used to diagnose a range of problems with bones, joints and internal organs as well as monitoring conditions or planning custom implants in joint replacement surgery.
For expert guidance on choosing the most effective radiology test to diagnosis your musculoskeletal pain or injury, please contact us.