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Impact and overuse injuries in runners

October 3, 2014 by susiefagerholm

A retrospective study was performed in 2004 by Alan Hreljac determining how impact and overuse injuries occur in runners and how professionals can reduce risk of overuse injuries for runner clients.

The study emphasized that in one year runners have a 70% chance of accumulating an injury. Overuse in the runner athlete is classified as increasing distance, intensity, or frequency in just one week. You are also at greater risk for injury if you previously had an injury. Your own physical limitations play a role in impact and overuse injuries such as variables in shoe wear, surface, and anatomical versus peak impact forces. For example, vertical height possibly increases rate of stress fractures due to greater ground reaction forces, loading rates, peak tibial acceleration. Over pronation also is a factor for overuse and impact injuries due to rearfoot impact causing shin splints.

The study concluded that overall low levels of impact forces and moderate pronation reduce the risk of overuse running injuries. When there is a risk of injury, runners should be advised to reduce training speeds to reduce impact along with longer rest periods. The take home of this article for runners is to act proactively, and for professionals, if you can find the relevant biomechanical and anatomical variables, then you can advise safe levels of training through the evaluation process.

As a professional, I thoroughly agree with this study. I always advise my runners to only add one variable at a time when beginning to train for a specific running event. I encourage a running video gait evaluation before increasing variables in your running to be able to determine if there are anatomical or biomechanical abnormalities that we can work on.

Alan Hreljac. Impact and overuse training in runners. Kinesiology and Health Science Department, California State University, Sacramento, Sacramento, CA. 2004.

View this research article.

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