Runners Pain Dictionary – Part 1
This and the next few articles will talk about some common injuries that afflict the running community.
I couldn’t think of a name that better describes this segment. A whopping large proportion of runners will experience one or more of these conditions to varying degrees during the lifecycle of their runs. Some conditions have daunting names while others seem fairly self explanatory. Their nomenclature aside, the degree to which pain afflicts a runner is often the result of his/her approach to the art and science of running. Hence, I am taking the liberty of starting with a prologue, which may not be purely medical, but in my opinion deserves the rank of honour.
HERCULES(Strongest Man) / NIKE (Goddess of Victory, not the shoe company) SYNDROME (if you have a better name, write in) – The desire to be the strongest/fastest and the victorious one. This condition generally coexists with what I call the DHRITRASHRA/KUNTI SYNDROME – one is either blind (to facts) or willfully chooses to wear a blindfold and continue. Translated into running lingo this means run, run, and run not knowing what lies in store or ignoring tell tale signs that something is amiss. In terms of injuries – take your pick from the following collection. And still be counting….
RUNNER”S KNEE – aka patellofemoral pain syndrome. This condition is common amongst, but not restricted to runners. It can be the result of any activity requiring repeated knee bending (cycling, plyometrics, exercises like lunges, jumping etc.). It refers more to a general affliction rather than a specific injury and can have multiple causes such as overuse (repeated, high stress activities such as those mentioned above involving knee bending), overpronation (inward roll) of feet leading to fallen arches, hypermobility of joints of the foot (excessive range of motion), misalignment of joints (knee not tracking properly), injury sustained by the knee such as in a fall or blow, and muscular imbalances (weak thigh muscles). Each of these conditions leads to abnormal stress loading of the knee causing wear and tear and pain. Given that running subjects the body to 3-4 times your bodyweight of stress forces, go figure the impact forces operating on the knee and other joints.
Common symptoms include pain behind, under or around the kneecap, pain when knee is bent (such as in walking, climbing stairs, getting up from a seated position, squatting, kneeling and running), pain which worsens when walking downhill, popping or grinding sensation in the knees and of course, swelling.
From a runner’s perspective it could be all of these and additional factors like running surface (road) conditions, poor biomechanics of running, improper shoe selection and inadequate recovery between runs.
Minor cases of runner’s knee can generally be addressed by paying attention to underlying cause(s) mentioned above and following the R.I.C.E protocol along with any pain medication the doctor might advice. Serious cases could require surgery. Pay attention to your running biomechanics, such as how hard you strike the ground, how far your foot strikes/lands away from the body in motion, what is the foot clearance from the ground while running, and augment running with a good strengthening and stretching program.