What are they and what can you do if you sustain them? By Esther Au Yong
Training well can ensure an injury-free experience. (Photo: 123rf.com/warrengoldswain)
The Standard Chartered Marathon 2015 is one of Singapore’s most popular annual running races. Training and prepping well is important to ensure a safe, injury-free experience.
Overuse injuries are common, says Dr Kevin Lee, senior consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. “As the term implies, these injuries arise from overtraining and are not uncommon in novice runners who amp up their running volume or intensity in a sudden and non-progressive manner,” he explains. “This does not allow the body, in particular the bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles, to adapt to the increased workload and thus, sustain stress-related injuries.”
The other type of injury – traumatic injury – happens when a runner falls or has an accident.
Though not based onsite during the event, Dr Lee is part of the medical team who would be treating runners should any injury arise. From his experience, here are five common running injuries:
Shin splints and stress fractures
Shin splints present as pain on the inner side of the leg (tibia) and is a type of overuse injury. This is due to inflammation of the lining on the inner side of the tibia. Treatment include rest, ice, stretches and anti-inflammatory medication. With these measures, most shin splints resolve in about two weeks, Dr Lee says. If runners persist in running despite the pain, then shin splints can progress to stress fractures of the lower limbs.
Stress fractures are usually diagnosed with a bone scan. Doctors usually order this scan if a patient has persistent bone pain despite resting for a few weeks. “This is a self-limiting overuse injury that recovers fully if the patient stops running and other high impact sports for three months,” Dr Lee explains.
Patella or quadriceps tendinitis
This refers to inflammation of patella or quadriceps tendons which lie below and above the patella (knee cap). This is an overuse injury that is common when doing repeated high intensity or hill workouts. Treatment include rest, ice, stretches and anti-inflammatory medication. Radial shockwave therapy also works well for these conditions.
Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome
The ITB is a thick band of fascia (tendon-like structure) that arises from the outside of the hip and pelvis. It runs down the side of the thigh and inserts into the outside and front of the knee. This is an overuse injury that presents as pain on the outside of the knee or outside of the hip. Treatment include rest, ice, stretches and anti-inflammatory medication. Radial shockwave therapy or cortisone injections also work well for these conditions, Dr Lee says.
This is a traumatic injury and usually caused by running on uneven terrain. Ankle ligaments on the outside of the ankle are usually partially torn, and this causes bruising and swelling. Acute management is RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. In some severe cases, the patient might even require crutches and a cast, Dr Lee says. “Once the acute injury recovers, it will be good to work with a physiotherapist to strengthen the supporting tendons and muscles around the ankle to prevent a recurrence of the injury,” he advises.
This is a traumatic injury of the knee that usually involves a twisting motion around the knee. There are two meniscus in the knee and they are rubber-like structures that act as shock absorbers. When the meniscus is torn, the knee is painful when the runner is running, bending or squatting and it can also feel unstable and locked (a feeling of the knee getting stuck at a certain position). “An MRI scan is used to confirm the diagnosis and treatment is via arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) to either repair the tear with stitches or to remove the torn part of the meniscus,” Dr Lee explains.