This year, albeit enormously challenging, has provided us with some unique opportunities.
Working from home, social restrictions and curfews have meant less commuting, plenty of sedentary behaviour and a surplus of ‘time’ to fill for a large proportion of Australians and Victorians.
Time we may never have at our disposal again!
For many, exercising has been a fantastic way to fill this time. In our new ‘Covid-world’, exercise allows us to get out of the house, raise a sweat and take our minds off the repetition of our current schedules.
So what are the most popular forms of exercise we could try?
In 2018, the Aus Play survey conducted by Sport Australia ranked the participation of Australians in the different forms of physical activity (1).
- Walking (Recreationally): > 8.7 million
- Gym / Fitness: > 6.8 million
- Swimming: > 4.5 million
- Running: > 3.3 million
- Cycling: > 2 million
Figure 1: Number of Australians participating in various forms of physical activity.
With gym doors shut, pool lanes closed and organised sport cancelled, millions of Australians are now searching either for something new, or ramping up one of the few remaining options – Running.
Its cheap, accessible, requires next to no equipment and can be performed at any time, making it a brilliant way to exercise. The health benefits include:
- Improved cardiovascular and physical fitness
- Improved mental health (anxiety, stress, depression)
- Reduced risk of developing chronic disease (3,4)
Contrary to popular belief, there is also no quality evidence to suggest running is associated with longer-term problems, like Osteoarthritis (5).
So, what could possibly go wrong?
We know that running injuries do occur, at rates ranging between 19% – 79% (6). We also know that such injuries reduce the pleasure of exercise and contribute to temporary or permanent cessation of running, along with generating absence from work and emergency department expenditure (7).
If you’ve had an injury from running before, or are experiencing running related pain at the moment, don’t worry, you’re not alone and we are here to help! Keep in mind, the benefits of running far outweigh any potential injury.
What are the risks?
Running injury risks are specific to you, the individual. Factors that can contribute to your level of risk are wide-ranging, from personal and lifestyle-related, to running and training related (7). Our main modifiable risk factor is training errors that lead to overload (running above your current capacity), whilst our largest non-modifiable factor comes from having a previous running injury (6,7). Other areas your physiotherapist may mention, are muscle strength, footwear, BMI, age and gender.
Running gait (the way you run) can also form part of the individual picture. Aspects of your running technique that can contribute to injury, such as overstriding (taking long steps), how your foot lands (“heel strike” or “mid-foot strike”) or your foot posture (“flat or arched feet”), will also be assessed by your physiotherapist. The goal – to help you find a better way to run.
What are the most commonly injured areas?
Listed below are the most common running injury areas. Look familiar? Interestingly, they are predominantly from the knee down (6,7,8).
- Knee pain: 7% – 50%
- Lower leg, including Shin, Achilles, Calf and Heel pain: 9% – 32 %
- Foot and toe pain: 5% – 39%
- Upper leg: Hamstring, Thigh and Quadriceps pain: 3% – 38%
- Low back pain: 5% – 19%
Over the course of this blog series, we will be going through these common running injuries in a way you can understand, so that together we can improve our understanding of what they are, how and why they occur, and what we can do to manage them effectively.
First cab off the rank – the infamous “Shin Splints”, or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome.
Stay tuned for other focus areas that may be of interest, including:
- Patello-Femoral Pain (Knee cap pain)
- Achilles Tendonopathy
- Plantar Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis / Plantar Fasciopathy)
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any feedback on this article, or have any questions for the team at CBSSMC.