On Monday, August 15th, all girls interested in playing soccer for the Garnet Valley High School team in Glen Mills, Pa. will have a very hard week of tryouts. Many girls have been at the high school track practicing soccer skills and of course running. The first week of tryouts is known for its’ grueling running sessions. This also seems to be the time when many girls receive their first of potentially many small injuries. Some common running injuries include: knee problems (Runner’s Knee), Shin Splints, Achilles tendon pain, rolling, twisting or spraining ankles. This article will cover the first two.
Many of these injuries can be attributed to the unforgiving lack of support in the soccer cleat, a lack of physical conditioning over the summer break, and unfamiliar mechanical maneuvers performed, such a cutting, since the last season.
As the name suggests, runner’s knee is a common aliment among runners. It is also very common among athletes that perform maneuvers that involve the knee, jumping, cutting, kicking, walking. The pain is felt around the kneecap. Runner’s knee is a loose term for many specific disorders with many causes:
- Overuse: Repeated bending as use of the knee can irritate nerves around the kneecap. Overstretched tendons may also cause the pain to occur around the kneecap.
- Trauma to the knee. Very common in soccer players. Cartilage or ligament tears occur when the knee is hit or an unusual amount of strain is placed that forces the ligament beyond its’ normal range of motion.
- Misalignment. If any of the bones slightly out of their correct position, so any physical stress placed on those misaligned bones may result in injury. Certain parts of the body may bear too much weight. Sometimes the kneecap is slightly out of its’ proper position.
- Problems with the feet. Runner’s knee can be the result of flat feet, or fallen arches or overpronation. This condition causes the impact of the arches to collapse when weight is bared on them.
- Weak hamstring or quadricep muscles.
Symptoms of runner’s knee (webmd.com)
- Pain around or behind the kneecap
- Pain when you bend the knee, when walking, squatting, running
- Pain that is worse when walking or running up and down hills or stairs
- Popping, clicking or grinding in the knee
- Rest the knee by elevating on a pillow.
- Ice to reduce pain and swelling.
- Wrap your knee. Use some form of compression and tape to keep knee as stable as possible.
- Nonsteriodal Anti-inflammatory painkillers. (NSAIDS) like, Advil, Aleve or Motrin, will help with swelling and pain. These painkillers should be used in accordance with Doctors approval.
- Arch supports. The orthotics can be custom made or bought at a drug store.
Shin Splints (Tibial Stress Syndrome)
If you feel a throbbing and aching in your shins, which is very common among runners, this is shin splints. Depending on the cause, the pain may be located along either side of the shinbone. The area may be painful to the touch. Shin splints are a commonly a result from:
- irritated and swollen muscles, often caused by overuse.
- Stress fractures.
- Overpronation or “flat feet”- when the impact of a step causes the arch of your foot to collapse, which stretches the muscles and tendons.
Shin splints make up 17% of all running injuries. (webmd.com)
- Icing. Reduces pain and swelling.
- Anti-inflammatory painkillers.
- Arch supports.
- Range of motion exercises, prescribed by doctor.
- Neoprene sleeve to support and warm the leg.
- Physical therapy.
- Always wear shoes with good support.
- Warm-up before working out, good stretching.
- Stop working out as soon as you feel pain.
- Don’t run on hard surfaces, like concrete.
You are healed when:
- Your leg flexibility is as good as your healthy leg.
- Your leg feels as strong as your healthy leg.
- Your can perform your physical activity with no pain.
Having injuries is common in sports. Doesn’t mean you give up sports. It does mean to take care of and listen to your body before during and after your exercise or sport.