Thursday, August 15, 2013

Injury in Women Runners

Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: Track Workout: 4 x Yasso 800's

During peak periods of my training, I experience aches and pains. In my last race, I experienced excruciating pain in my left hip. I couldn't walk well for almost a week. I was in so much pain during the race and had never had this happen before. Typically, when I cover higher milage, I find pain in my knees. I have learned to adapt to the pain by compensating with a knee brace. I have always thought of this pain to be genetically related, "poor knees" run in my family. But is this really the case?  I know that aches and pains are common in runners but it seems that there are a variety of names for these injuries and reasons for why we get them. 
So what's the deal? 
I came across an article directed at women runners. The article was incredibly interesting to me. It covered common injuries that affect women runners directly. I may sound naive, but I didn't realize that women could be susceptible to specific running-related injuries. There were quite a few items listed, however, here were a few that struck me during my reading:

Hips. Due to our wider hips, women develop more injury below-the-belt. Something called Bursitis is common in women's running. Bursitis is an inflammation in the bursa sacs that surround and cushion your hip joint. Bursitis is similar to a blister. "If the joint isn't aligned, you'll have rubbing. And if you run enough miles, that rubbing will create real irritation." (Runners World)
Prevention:  Wear properly fitted running shoes, avoid sloped surfaces and increase your milage no more than 10% each week.

Knees. Your knees also fall victim to wider hips. Patellofemoral Syndrome is pain in the underside of the knee cap, as it rubs against the bottom of the thigh bone it can cause pain and inflammation. A common reason for this injury is due to our build--our hip-to-ankle ratio is not perfectly straight. We may be curved inward, "knock knees" or outward, "bowlegged" which makes us more prone to develop knee pain. 
Prevention: Quad strengthening exercises as well as correctly fitted running shoes with medial support will benefit you.  This will prevent your ankles and heels from rolling either outward or inward. And as always, if you feel pain, take a break and return to your routine once the pain dissipates. 

Shins. Shinsplints cause pain in the inside edge of the shinbone. Women tend to have looser ligaments in their knees and ankles which creates a situation where you are more likely to overpronate. 
Prevention: Stretch and add strengthening exercises to build muscle in the areas that are lacking. Look for shoes that provide arch support and keep your ankle in line. You may want to look for a shoe with a stiff structure to it. *Shinsplints are no pain to run through, if you continue to run through excruciating pain, there is a chance that you can develop a stress fracture. This takes time to heal and is very painful. Kiss running goodbye for weeks or perhaps longer...

Feet. Women tend to have narrower heels than men. Many women mistakenly buy shoes that are one size too small. This is typically to compensate for the smaller heel, thinking that they are buying a shoe that accurately fits them correctly. Plantar Fasciitis is a common injury in the foot. It is an inflammation of the tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. It often creates a shooting pain in the heel or arch. 
Prevention: Find a pair of shoes that fit you properly. Make sure that there is minimal to zero opportunity for slippage. The article suggested something called the "wet test": Step out of the shower onto a piece of paper, trace the outline of your foot and take it with you to a running store to show an associate. This will help determine how your foot strikes the ground naturally and allow the store associate to have an accurate perception. Sounds a bit silly but I could see how it could be beneficial! Worst case scenario, blame this ridiculous blogger for telling you to conduct such a strange act. 

Lungs. Women are likely to suffer from asthma attacks or exercise-induced asthma during running activities. This can be caused by cold air, physical and emotional stress, as well as hormones (especially the week before or during your period). Dehydration is also another factor that may cause an attack. 
Prevention: Drink approximately 8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes (does that seem like a lot to anyone else? I feel like I would be so uncomfortable during my run if I drank that much that often). It also suggests diet changes, however, I am no dietitian, so, if you have asthma concerns, consult your doctor before altering your diet. 

Aren't these facts interesting? I identified with the knee and the hip pain. I feel better knowing that it is common in women and not necessarily because I am running too much or incorrectly. Again, I am no doctor or dietician, however, this information is coming from a reliable source. I feed off of running knowledge so regardless, it's an interesting perspective. Remember, if you have injury or health concerns, consult a doctor. It's important to listen to your body and if you feel pain. Even if you feel that something that just isn't right...stop. It doesn't make you a weak individual to stop or walk. It actually makes you a very smart cookie. I would rather walk when in pain, then to result in injury with a  prescription of bed rest and no running for weeks!

If you would like to read more on this article, see this site: Here.

Do you ever feel pain during your runs? Do you notice it at a certain milage? Did any of these facts listed find you interested in learning more? I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please leave them in the comment section below!

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