Running addiction can increase your injury risk

runner's knee injury

Running is a popular form of exercise that can deliver a high level of benefits to the mind and body. You may have heard the term ‘runners high’, a phrase used to describe the euphoric feeling many people experience after a run.

As many gyms have now closed due to the Coronavirus, many people are turning to alternative forms of exercise such as running. However, according to a new study, a running addiction could increase your chances of developing a serious knee injury.

Here, we’ll look at what the study revealed and the types of injuries you could be exposed to.

Understanding the new study

The new study carried out by the University of South Australia, surveyed 246 recreational runners. They were aged between 19 to 77. It focused on how the mental outlook of a runner affects their physical injury risk.

It was discovered that those who were considered obsessively passionate about running, suffered the most injuries. This group of people often don’t leave enough time for their body to recover after running. In contrast, those who had a more relaxed and enjoyable view of running suffered fewer injuries. They were able to mentally detach from the activity, allowing them to take time off to recover when needed.

There was also a link between age and gender too. Women were found to have an increased risk of injury, while older people had a more relaxed attitude to running and were therefore less likely to suffer an injury.

Runner’s knee injury

One of the most common running injuries sustained by patients is runner’s knee. If you are experiencing pain in your knee area after running, this is the injury you likely have. It is caused by repetitive strain on the joint and it tends to be more common in women than men.

The two most common conditions to be labelled runner’s knee are ITB friction syndrome where the pain is over the outer side of the knee due to the soft tissues becoming inflamed and patella tendonopathy, which occurs when the kneecap tendon attaching to the tip of the kneecap becomes damaged due to repetitive strain. As Jonathan Webb explains: “It’s a bit like the equivalent of tennis elbow but in the knee. Both of these conditions will relate to an imbalance or lack of conditioning of the leg muscles, especially those around the hip that control the pelvis and leg as your foot hits the ground repeatedly.”

The most common symptom is a dull, aching pain behind or around the kneecap. It may hurt when you walk, squat, run or use stairs. Most commonly it occurs due to overuse, such as running too frequently without allowing the body adequate resting periods. However, it can also occur due to weak thigh muscles, arthritis or if you fail to warm up prior to exercise.

Treating running knee injuries

In most cases, runners’ knee can be treated successful without the need for surgery. Patients will need to rest, use ice to soothe the area, wrap it in a compression bandage and keep the leg elevated.

However, if the kneecap needs to be realigned or if the cartilage is damaged, surgery may be required.

Preventing runners’ knee

While runners’ knee is a common injury, it can mostly be prevented. Easing yourself into a new running routine is a good start. You should also ensure that you stretch well and stay in shape. Start gradually, rather than attempting to run a huge distance in one go.

While runners’ knee is treatable, it is obviously better to prevent an injury from occurring in the first place. The latest study highlights how your mental state can impact your risk for injury. As much as you may love running, make sure it doesn’t become an obsession otherwise you could pay for it later on.