Running in the 21st Century (Part 2): Am I injured or just sore?

Running in the 21st Century (Part 2): Am I injured or just sore?

Running: The one-legged exercise

Running is a one-legged sport. Throughout the running cycle, one foot strikes the ground and pushes off while the other is mid-air. Momentarily, both feet are off the ground until the other foot makes contact and repeats the same force absorption and push-off movement. As a result, runners have to be able to support their weight and maintain balance. This is often with the equivalent body weight of up to 4-8 times of those during walking. Is it really any wonder, then, that injury is frequent among runners?

Knee pain is the most common presentation associated with runners. Approximately 30% of all “serious” distance runners (those running more than 40km/week) will suffer an injury over 12 months. A third of these injuries will involve the knee, in particular the patellofemoral joint (PFJ) or iliotibial band (ITB). Our next blog will explore these in further detail.

Injuries suffered during running suggests that training errors are the main factor responsible for two-thirds of all injuries. You can think of training errors as “the terrible toos”:

  • Too much!
  • Too often!
  • Too soon!
  • Too fast!
  • And with too little rest!

Sometimes it is in the rush to get fit quickly that people get injured. This is why we talked about an appropriate training programme in our last blog, and the multitude of resources available to help you in this front. An overuse injury (which will make up most presentations we see from running) only occurs due to the poor adaptation of tissue to load. To ensure an injury-free preparation, it’s important to gradually increase the stress load of exercise. This will avoid outpacing the body’s physical ability to adapt to this new load.


DOMS & Musculoskeletal Pain – What’s the difference?

It is also important to listen to your body during training. The nature of exercise means that the body is under strain, as described above. It is normal to expect some stiffness and low-level pain following training, particularly when you are first starting out. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a common by-product of exercise, and will typically be at its worst 24-72 hours after injury. There are several key differentiating factors between DOMS and musculoskeletal pain. These are outlined in the table below:

  DOMS Musculoskeletal Pain
Type of discomfort: Tender when touching muscles

Tired or burning feeling while exercising

Dull, tight and ache feeling at rest

Ache, sharp pain at rest or when exercising
Onset: During exercise or 24-72 hours after activity. During exercise or within 24 hours of activity
Duration: 2-3 days May linger if not addressed
Location: Muscles Muscles or joints
Improves with: Stretching, following movement Ice, rest
Worsens with: Sitting still Continues activity
Appropriate action: Resume offending activity once soreness subsides Consult with medical professional or physiotherapist if pain is extreme or lasts >102 weeks


Be sure to note the difference between the two. If you are experiencing any of the signs above describing musculoskeletal pain, then get in touch with us at PhysiCo City Physiotherapy today! You can book in to see one of our expert physiotherapists either online, or by giving us a call on (02) 9267 3775.