Why Runners Get Hurt So Often – Part 2

In the last blog post, I talked about how not following smart training principles and progressions can lead to injury. The other most common issue I see in injured runners is a lack of strength in the key stabilizers in their bodies.

The most common injuries I see with runners are “runner’s knee” (a catch-all term that can include IT band issues, patellofemoral pain, and pes anserine bursitis) and foot and ankle issues, such as plantar fasciitis, posterior tibialis strain/tendinopathy (“shin splints”), and Achilles tendon pain. There are other issues seen, but these are the biggies.

One simple functional test is often a quick revelation as to why they’re hurting. A single leg squat…Stand on one leg and squat part way down. What does your knee do? Does it dive in to the middle? Is it wobbling side to side? If so, your hips are too weak and not controlling your knee, foot and ankle.

If you can’t control your leg in a single-leg squat standing still, how can you control it while you run? Running is basically a series of single-leg squat jumps. The average is 2000 steps per mile so if you run a half marathon, you’ll do roughly 26,000 steps.

If you can’t do 1 single leg squat with good form, how do you expect your knees & feet to react to 26,000 repetitions of single-leg jumps? I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen jaws drop when I explain that simple fact to injured runners. It’s why even “an easy 5K” can cause pain…6000+ jumps!

Weak hips will allow the knee and the foot to collapse in to the middle. This stresses the tissues that are all part of the above-mentioned knee and foot diagnoses.

To run further, your body will do more reps. To run faster, you’ll use more muscle fibers that need to generate more force to propel you quicker. Either way, if you’re not strong enough, your body may eventually protest from one of these common overuse injuries.

Not sure how to strengthen those key stabilizers? I’d be happy to teach you and get you on a strength program to keep you injury free. Shoot me a message!

Dr. Jeanne Williams, PT, DPT, OCS
We help endurance athletes (from beginners to pros) train and cross the finish line faster and injury-free!


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