The general incidence of lower body injuries in runner ranges from 19.4 to 79.3 percent. The knee is the most commonly injured body part (42%). The most common complaints are achilles tendinopathy, patellofemoral pain syndrome, shin splints, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome, plantar fasciopathy and stress fractures of the foot and tibia.
In one retrospective study of 2886 runners reported an overall injury rate of 46% but found higher incidence of injuries to the calf, achilles tendon and hamstring among masters runners over 40 years of age.
Risk factors for running in our training environment are training error, running surface and footwear. Intrinsic factors include previous injury, running experience, flexibility, strength, anatomy and gender. Training error is a major factor when athletes get injured and it is the biggest reason why runners get injured. The general rule of thumb is small increments of increased loading. Generally, no more than 10% each week.
There are more and more articles being published recently on the benefits of strength and conditioning in running.
Karsten et al (2015) tested 16 runners with a 5k race. Half of the athletes did a strength and conditioning programme for 12 weeks and showed faster times than the athletes that did not participate in the weights programme. It does not matter if you are an 800m runner or marathon runner, you will start to see your pace increasing when strength training. The body will be more efficient when using oxygen allowing the athlete to access more energy when running. Being stronger will allow you generate greater force when you strike your foot off the ground and with better running economy you’ll have a better final kick.
Strength training will burn fat and decrease your body fat percentage making you lighter and faster. A lot of runners are concerned about putting on weight when doing strength training. Strength training combined with continuous weekly running will not allow weight to be put on. The athlete will have a better body composition and not increase muscle mass.
A high proportion of our patients who attend physiotherapy will have asymmetries on one side. This will cause a structural imbalance and increase the risk of injury. Strength training helps to balance out these imbalances and make the athlete more tolerable to training load and the demands of competition.