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Unveiling The Truth: Teen Running Injuries

Running isn't just a sport; it's a passion that ignites the spirit of countless teenage girls. From the allure of cross country trails to the adrenaline of track and field, these sports offer not just physical development but also a mental boost. Yet, amidst the thrill of chasing their dreams on the track, teenage runners often encounter a common roadblock - injuries.

In Conversation with Sam Donaldson: Expert Insights on Teen Running Injuries

In our quest to decode the secrets behind these hurdles, we had the privilege of chatting withSam Donaldson, head physio atRHP Physiotherapy. With a track record spanning high-profile athletes like Australian running sensation Torrie Lewis, Sam brings a wealth of experience to the table. He opens up about the intricate world of injuries in teenage runners, helping us unravel the mysteries of their occurrence, treatment, and speedy recovery.



Case Study: Olivia's Journey Through Teen Running Injuries

Meet Olivia, a determined 15-year-old with a burning ambition to conquer the track. This is not her real name, but her story resonates with many. An avid enthusiast of races exceeding 800 meters, Olivia's heart beats faster on cross country terrains. Last year, she even graced the state titles, setting her sights on clinching a medal this time.

However, Olivia's journey took a detour when she began to experience pain along the inner side of her left shin. The discomfort wasn't always present, sometimes fading during a session only to resurface with greater intensity later. Gradually, what was once mild turned into 3-5/10 soreness after demanding sessions. Concerned, Olivia and her mother sought the expertise of a physiotherapist to uncover the issue and devise a strategy for recovery.



The Routine and The Setback

A peek into Olivia's weekly routine reveals her dedication:

  • Squad run at the track on Monday and Thursday
  • Solo longer run on Wednesday
  • School volleyball on Friday
  • Squad run (the most intense) on Saturday
  • Solo longer run and stretch on Sunday

As her symptoms emerged, Olivia had recently added Wednesday and Sunday long runs, influenced by her older brother's training regimen. The week before her pain escalated, she replaced her worn-out shoes.



Cracking the Code: Diagnosis and Treatment

During her assessment, tenderness on the inner side of her left shin and increased calf muscle sensitivity were observed. Strengthening tests unveiled disparities:

  • Single leg calf raises: Left = 15, Right = 17
  • Single leg squat to bench: Left = 9, Right = 12
  • Hip strength (side kick): Left = 7kg, Right = 12kg
  • Single leg hop distance: Left = 135cm, Right = 167cm

Notably, Olivia's left arch height fluctuated more than the right during walking and running. Through strategic taping, the physiotherapist mitigated 90% of her shin discomfort during running and hopping.



The Recovery Journey and Triumph

A tailored plan comprising massage therapy for calf and hip muscles, as well as taped support, facilitated Olivia's steady recovery. Gradually, she resumed her regular distances, focusing on improving strength discrepancies. Four targeted exercises performed every other day yielded positive results.

Four weeks later, Olivia's pain-free runs marked the end of her struggle. Gradually reintroducing her full distances over six weeks and consistent strength assessments paved her path to triumphant progress. Impressively, her left single leg hop distance soared from 135cm to 185cm, transforming her performance.



A Promising Future Awaits

Olivia's 800m Personal Best shattered records by 7 seconds, highlighting the significant impact of her rehabilitation on her confidence and training consistency. As she continues to enhance her strength and jumping capabilities, the sky's the limit for Olivia's running journey. It's a story of resilience, persistence, and transformation that demonstrates the power of tailored care in teen running injuries.

Sam Donaldson

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*This article should not be taken as medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult your Physiotherapist or GP for a medical diagnosis.