Common Injuries

Foot Pain

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation (swelling) of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot; this tissue is called the plantar fascia. This injury is an overuse condition of the plantar fascia at its attachment to the calcaneus. It connects the heel bone to the toes and created the arch of the foot. This can make walking difficult and become quite painful. The symptoms to look for are pain (dull or sharp), stiffness at the bottom of the heal, the foot may also ache or burn. Pain is usually worse in the morning, after standing for a while, climbing stairs or intense activity. This can be an acute injury or build up over a period of time, to prevent the acute onset regular stretching of the foot and calf muscles needs to be completed. To prevent chronic overuse cases ensure footwear is checked and correct by supporting the arch of your foot. Ensure you cool down effectively after each activity/exercise. A sports injury specialist can treat with massage and electrotherapy. Home exercises will be prescribed to aid your recovery.

Shin Pain

Shin splints are a common complaint among athletes particularly distances runners. Medical term for ‘shin splints’ is medial tibial traction periostitis. This is the inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia (sheath surrounding the bone). Traction forces on the periosteum from the muscles of the lower leg cause shin pain and inflammation (swelling). There are a number of factors as to why shin splints are caused, mainly biomechanical faults and training errors. The most common causes are due to over pronation or supination of the feet. Inadequate footwear, increasing training too quickly (overuse), running on hard surfaces and decreased flexibility at the ankle joint. Symptoms include pain at the start of a session which will ease as the session progresses, pain is felt over the inside lower half of the shin, pain often returns after activity. There can be swelling present; lumps and bumps may be felt when touching the inside of the shin bone. When the toes or foot are bent downwards pain is also present. To prevent this injury consider off road running, cycling or swimming (non weight bearing) to take the pressure away from the shin. Stretch your calf’s regularly especially before or after exercise. This injury is probe to reoccurrence so seek help as soon as symptoms are present. Many athletes have a sports massage once a month as prevention to injuries such as this.

Knee Pain

Illiotibal band syndrome (ITBS) is a common injury referred to as ‘runner’s knee.’ The illiotibial band (ITB) is a long thick tendon which runs between the tensor fascia latae muscle in the hip and attaches to the head of the fibula below the outside of the knee. ITBS is the irritation of this insertion at the knee often combined with tension throughout the ITB. Stretching the quadriceps and hamstring muscles can help to prevent a tight ITB. The most effective method found is rolling the outside of your thigh along a foam roller with your body weight providing the stretch. This stretch/exercise can be extremely painful if the ITB is tight, but is worth completing to prevent long term problems. The biomechanical factors to consider are the alignment of your foot, knee and pelvis. Treatment will consist of a rest period followed by massage and electrotherapy, stretching programs provided to continue with at home.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is also referred to as ‘runner’s knee’ at times. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is a generic term that describes pain coming from the front of the knee (patella). Mal tracking of the patella is usually the cause for this injury, meaning it does not move in the correct manner when the knee is bent and straightened. This will then start to cause damage to the surrounding areas, tissues and structures. Symptoms include aching in the joint mainly at the front of the patella, tenderness on the inside of the patella, inflammation after activity, clicking/cracking when the knee is bending. It may be uncomfortable when sitting or standing for long lengths of time. You are more prone to this injury if you have tight leg muscles, a small knee cap, compete in long distance running. To prevent this from occurring ensure a good muscle balance in the thighs, biomechanical assessment of the patella, stretching all leg muscles to keep flexible. If you are suffering with patella femoral pain, see a sports injuries specialist they can tape the knee into the correct position, go through stretching programs and be able to loosen any tight structures around the knee.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures can be caused by overtraining, shortage of calcium or by some biomechanical flaw (running style/body structure). Common stress fractures in runners in the tibia (the inner and larger bone of the leg below the knee), the femur (thigh bone), in the sacrum (triangular bone at the base of the spine) and the metatarsal (toe) bones in the foot, This is one injury that should not be ignored. Not all stress fractures will show on an x-ray, a bone scan is sometimes required so see a doctor who specialises in treating running injuries. To prevent stress fractures make sure your mileage increase is steady, 10% increments per week is seen to be the safest rate. Seek help as soon as you suspect a stress fracture, the longer you run on it the longer healing time will be.

Tennis Elbow

Lateral epicondylitis known as Tennis Elbow is the bane of many peoples lives regarding their love of tennis. The same goes for Golfers Elbow medical term, medial epicondylitis. Both these injuries are inflammation or degenration of the tendons that attach to the medial (inside) or lateral (outside) parts of the humerus in the elbow joint. The symptoms of tennis elbow are pain and tenderness on the outside of your elbow and sometimes in the muscles on top of your forearm. Tennis elbow usually affects the arm of your dominant hand because this is the arm most used. Symptoms usually develop gradually. The pain may become constant, your affected arm may also be more painful when trying to grip or twist something.

Tennis Elbow is caused by an imbalance between wrist flecors and extensors, the muscles in your forearm that control the main movements at the wrist. This imbalance can be brought to the forefront by a repeated overuse of your arm. Playing tennis three times a week when you havent played for some time is the sort of overuse that can cause tennis elbow. However, most people who develop tennis elbow haven’t been playing tennis. A range of different activities that involve repeated hand, wrist and forearm movements is more often the cause. This includes activities such as using a screwdriver.

What causes a muscle tear?

A muscle tear happens when it is put under a force it cannot withstand. This can be more likely to happen when the muscle has not been warmed up properly, when it is fatigued or when there is scar tissue present due to previous injury or when there are predisposing factors such as biomechanical problems.Muscle tears are graded in seriousness of 1 to 3. A grade 1 tear is a minor strain that can heal as quickly as two weeks, with the correct management of the injury. A grade 2 strain is a midpoint between a strain and a complete rupture when only some fibres are torn. A grade 3 tear means a complete rupture of all fibres and can take up to six months to heal.


It may be possibe to identify the specific point when the muscle tore with a grade 3 tear. More often the pain is gradual and may not be noticed as soon as it happens. Pain with movement, swelling and loss of flexibility are all indicators there has been a tear in the fibres. Pain and difficulty completing movements are usually what leads to help being sought.

Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is when the head of the humerus is forced out of the glenohumeral socket (made up of your clavicle and scapula). This in turn can tear or rupture ligaments and the labrum, which is a cartilage based substance that adds depth to the shoulder socket. As long as there is no fracture, once the shoulder is relocated the damage to the bone is over. However, it is the ligaments, labrum and often the tendons that need time to heal. Shoulder dislocations are heavily associated with re-injury and therefore an effective rehabilitation programme is essential to the long term recovery of the joint. A partial dislocation is known as a subluxation and causes similar damage, but usually not as serious. Medical attention should always be immediatly sought even if the shoulder appears to have relocated itself. There are several complications that could occur if the joint is not further investigated. Once a doctor has confirmed rehabilitation can begin (usually follows a period of rest) strengthening and stabilising exercises can be prescribes. Range of motion and flexibility exercises are not included until the very end of the programme and the focus is to re-stabilise the joint, to prevent future dislocation.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners. It occurs when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight causing friction, pain and inflammation. The IT band attaches to the knee and helps stabilise and move the joint, Overuse is the main cause of iliotibial band syndrome however tight muscles in the hip/outside of the thigh, weak hip muscles and poor running form can all contribute. The most notable symptom is pain and swelling on the outside of the knee. Initially there may be a sensation of stinging or needle-like pricks around the outside of the knee/thigh which can progress into pain during heel strike when running.

Piriformis Syndrome

The piriformis muscle is one of the small muscles deep in the buttocks that rotates the leg outwards. It runs from the bottom of the spine and attaches to the femur.  When the piriformis muscle is irritated, the sciatic nerve can become irritated also. overuse causes the piriformis muscle to go into spasm resulting in pressure on the sciatic nerve. Typical piriformis syndrome symptoms may include a dull ache in the buttock, pain radiating down the back of the thigh, pain going upstairs, pain after prolonged sitting and reduced range of motion.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is the soft tissue located at the heel which connects the calf muscle to the heel allowing the body to perform certain activities such as rising on to the tip toes and pushing off when running or walking. Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon becomes damaged through excessive pressure put on the area which the tendon is unable to withstand and is normally a overuse injury. Achilles tendonitis symptoms include pain in the heel and back of the ankle, which could be felt as a stiffness or ache when resting or first thing in the morning, swelling, inflammation and depending on severity the inability to weight bear.

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