How To Avoid and Fix Common Running Injuries – Runner’s Knee, IT Band Syndrome and Achilles Tendinitis

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Picture this – you’re a runner and you got hurt. You’re searching the internet for quick hacks and fixes so you can keep running but you just get more confused and don’t know who to trust. In this article, we’ll hopefully cut through the sh*t and make it easy for you to get back on the road of recovery with pro-medical advice. You’ll learn three simple steps to fix three common running injuries in new and advanced runners. You’ll also get the diagnosis, short-term and long-term treatment from a professional physio/physical therapist of the following; Runner’s Knee, IT Band syndrome, and Achilles Tendinopathy – yes, not tendinitis because… that’s not even a thing for most people anymore and we’ll tell you why.

We are not your medical specialists or your doctors. We do not know your specific individual condition and this should not be treated as a diagnosis or treatment regime. Please take this as information and entertainment only to help better inform you to go to a specialist for further help.

Runner’s Knee: The Nemesis in Disguise

First on our hit list is that dreaded runner’s knee. Feels like you’ve been kneecapped by a mischievous elf, doesn’t it? But here’s something I just learned – It’s not as serious as we make it. The solution lies in treating our quads and glutes with the respect they deserve. Strengthen them (by lifting heavy 5-12 reps and not having much left) to keep your knees happy.

  • Immediate Treatment:
    • Education on activity balance and gradual increase in running.
    • Recommendation of ibuprofen for short-term inflammation control.
    • Initial focus on quads release work to alleviate immediate discomfort.
  • 8-12 Weeks Treatment:
    • Introduction and progression of strength training focusing on quadriceps and hip stabilizers, particularly the glute medius.
    • Gradual reintroduction to running, possibly re-entering a modified Couch to 5K program to ensure a controlled increase in running workload.
  • Long-Term Treatment and Strength Work:
    • Continuous strength training emphasizing quadriceps and hip stability.
    • Ongoing gait analysis and possible adjustments to reduce stress on the knee.
    • Education on the importance of maintaining a balanced training regimen that includes adequate rest and recovery periods.

IT Band Syndrome: Crashing the Party Without an Invite

Then there’s the IT band syndrome, the life of the party nobody wanted. It’s like that one friend who means well but ends up wreaking havoc. Here’s the deal: stop battling it with wishful thinking and start targeting those glutes with the precision of a sniper. Release the tension, embrace the strength exercises, and watch as the uninvited guest starts to get the hint. It’s about redirecting the energy, turning chaos into order with a well-placed workout plan.

  • Immediate Treatment:
    • Initial use of ibuprofen to manage inflammation.
    • Focus on TFL and glutes release work to reduce tension on the ITB.
  • 8-12 Weeks Treatment:
    • Strengthening of the glute medius to prevent overcompensation by the TFL and subsequent tension on the ITB.
    • Introduction of more functional exercises, such as Bulgarian split squats, to improve muscle balance and support around the knee.
  • Long-Term Treatment and Strength Work:
    • Maintenance of glute medius strength through regular, targeted exercises.
    • Periodic gait analysis to identify and correct any form issues that may contribute to ITB syndrome.
    • Strategy to include variation in running surfaces and footwear to distribute load and minimize repetitive stress on the ITB.

Achilles Tendinopathy: The Silent Alarm

Achilles tendinopathy sneaks up on you like a silent alarm. One minute you’re fine, the next you’re wondering why your heel feels like it’s plotting your downfall. Here’s a novel idea: treat it with the respect it demands. Start with isometrics if it’s shouting at you, then move on to heavy slow resistance training once it starts to simmer down. Keep your exercises precise, and your heels grounded. No dramatic heel drops—this isn’t a tango. It’s a delicate dance with your own resilience.

  • Immediate Treatment:
    • Use of isometric exercises to manage pain and support tendon health without aggravating the condition.
    • Careful monitoring of pain levels, adjusting activity to keep discomfort manageable.
  • 8-12 Weeks Treatment:
    • Implementation of a heavy, slow resistance strength training program, focusing on calf muscles without causing additional strain on the Achilles tendon.
    • Exercises performed should avoid excessive dorsiflexion to minimize stress on the insertional point of the Achilles tendon.
  • Long-Term Treatment and Strength Work:
    • Continuous heavy resistance training to ensure the strength and resilience of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
    • Consideration of footwear that supports the Achilles tendon and regular evaluation of training surfaces to reduce unnecessary strain.
    • Exploration of adjunct treatments like collagen supplementation for tendon health, alongside a comprehensive strength and conditioning program tailored to the individual’s needs and response to treatment.

Gait Retraining: Strutting into the Sunset

Finally, we waltz into gait retraining. Running awkwardly isn’t a badge of honor; it’s a hurdle to overcome. This is where we put on our detective hats and analyze our running form like it’s a crime scene. Adjust your steps, play with your cadence, and watch as your run transforms from a clumsy jog to a smooth saunter. It’s about fine-tuning the machine, and making minor adjustments that lead to major improvements.

The Essence of the Journey

To wrap this up with a neat little bow: it’s about the small victories, the daily improvements, the tiny tweaks that accumulate over time. Facing the usual suspects—runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy, and gait inefficiencies—isn’t just a battle. It’s a journey towards self-improvement, with each step forward marking a tiny triumph in the grand scheme of things.

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