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8 things you might not know about lower body injuries


 

Wearing high heels cause metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia affects the ball of your foot. If you suffer from it, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the ball of the foot (just behind your toes)
  • Pain worsens when standing, running, or walking on a hard surface
  • Feeling that you have a pebble in your shoe

It might not be a surprise that it is often caused by intense training or activity, which is why many long-distance runners are familiar with it. But people wearing high heels are at risk too. When wearing heels, 70 to 80% of your weight is often transferred to the ball of your feet. Because there is a lot of pressure on the balls of your feet, you’re more likely to get injured. 

ITB syndrome: it’s time to replace your shoes

As the food you eat, running shoes might just have an expiry date too. Over time, shoes lose shock absorption as well as cushioning. After 300-400 miles, wearing these shoes will increase stress and impact your lower body and joints. It means there is a higher risk of you getting injured.

This especially happens with the iliotibial band syndrome, known as one of the most common running injuries due to overuse. It happens when the IT band (a band of connective tissue running from the outside of the hip to the knee) is tight or inflamed. If your shoes are worn out along the outside of the sole, the lack of cushioning can cause rubbing between the band and the bone, which might cause inflammation. 

Recovery of runner’s knee takes about 6-12 weeks

If you experience a runner’s knee, first know that you are not alone - 15% of all runners experience it in their journey. Also, good news! You can recover from it. Most runners will heal after a few months of rehabilitation, but be aware that if it stays untreated, this can become a chronic condition.

Treatment usually includes:

  • Physiotherapy: specifically targeted exercises will help you to strengthen your hip and knee muscles. Physiotherapists can build a physio plan with exercises to be performed 2-3 times a week.
  • Foot orthotics: in case your injury is caused by foot mechanics, supportive insoles will prevent overpronation. 
  • Taping and bracing: these will not be permanent solutions but will help offload stress on the knee and give it more support. You can use K-tape, sports tape, or even knee braces. 

Military personnel are more at risk of shin splints

Studies have shown that the Medial Tibial Syndrome (also called shin splints) is a common condition affecting the military. It is experienced twice as much as seen in the average active population. 

Why is this? Recruits are usually fairly new to physical training and it is common knowledge that military training is very demanding for their bodies. Although the training is divided into three phases (initial conditioning, toughening, and sustaining) to avoid injury, the bodies of individuals who are already well-conditioned usually adapt quickly to the program. 

The 3 types of ankle sprains

“Last weekend, I sprained my ankle, running on trails!” 

But did you know that ankle sprains could be classified in 3 distinct anatomic classifications, which might be a good measure to estimate recovery? 

  • Grade I - lateral ligaments are strained (which means they have been overstretched). This is the least invasive injury, which will probably take 1 to 2 weeks to heal.
  • Grade II - one or several ligaments are partially torn.
  • Grade III - one or several ligaments are completely torn. This is the most severe form of ankle sprain (you’re most likely unable to walk). It might take you up to 8 weeks to heal properly. 

Low on vitamin D? Be careful of stress fractures

What’s on your dinner plate might have more importance than you think in staying out of injury (especially stress fractures). The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery has shown that people with lower levels of vitamin D are at higher risk of stress fractures. 

It is common knowledge that human bodies can make this vitamin from UV light (from the sun), but if you’re living in a country that might lack it, or if you’re very active, you might need to up your intake. 

But you can also find vitamin D in salmon, herring and sardines, canned tuna, or egg yolks. If you’re vegan, soy milk, orange juice, and cereals are often fortified with vitamin D. However, make sure to check the labels and use supplements otherwise because these alternatives might not all contain fortified vitamin D.

4 in 5 runners wear shoes that don’t suit their running style

Trail running shoes, track shoes, carbon plate shoes… there are plenty of models that can help you to cater to different terrains and race types. But what about your pronation? The way your foot rolls inwards and outwards for impact distribution upon landing can be different, person to person. 

This is why getting a gait analysis can be very useful upon getting your new pair of running shoes. It will help you identify the right pair that fits your style. 

In general, you can be:

  • A supinator runner - meaning the outer side of the heel hits the ground first, and the transmission of shock goes through the lower leg
  • A neutral runner - meaning the foot lands on the outside of the heel first, then pronates inwards to absorb shock
  • An overpronator runner - meaning the foot lands on the outside of the heel, then pronates excessively to the inner edge of the foot instead of its ball.