Running is a popular form of exercise and a fantastic way to improve cardiovascular health, build endurance, and maintain overall fitness. However, like any physical activity, running can come with its share of risks and injuries. One such injury that many runners may encounter is bone bruising. Bone bruising, although less severe than a fracture, can still be painful and impact a runner's training routine.
What is Bone Bruising?
Bone bruising, also known as a bone contusion, occurs when there is a direct impact or excessive force applied to a bone, causing damage to the underlying bone marrow. While the outer surface of the bone remains intact, the forceful impact can result in bleeding within the bone, leading to pain, inflammation, and tenderness.
Causes of Bone Bruising in Runners:
Bone bruising can occur in various sports or physical activities, but in the context of running, it is often associated with repetitive impact and excessive stress on the bones. Some common causes of bone bruising in runners include:
Overtraining: Pushing the body beyond its limits without adequate rest and recovery can increase the risk of bone bruising. Running long distances or increasing mileage too quickly without allowing the body to adapt can stress the bones.
Improper footwear: Worn-out or ill-fitting shoes lack proper cushioning and support, leading to increased impact on the bones. This can contribute to the development of bone bruising.
Uneven surfaces: Running on uneven or hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt, can subject the bones to repetitive impact and increase the chances of bruising.
Symptoms of Bone Bruising:
Recognising the signs and symptoms of bone bruising is crucial for early intervention and proper treatment. Some common symptoms experienced by runners with bone bruising include:
Localised pain: Pain that intensifies during weight-bearing activities, such as running, jumping, or even walking, is a common symptom of bone bruising.
Swelling and tenderness: The affected area may exhibit swelling, tenderness, and increased sensitivity to touch.
Limited range of motion: Stiffness or difficulty moving the affected joint due to pain can be an indication of bone bruising.
Treatment and Recovery:
When dealing with bone bruising, rest is of paramount importance. Continuing to run or engage in high-impact activities can worsen the injury and prolong recovery. The following treatment options are typically recommended:
Rest and modification of activities: Give the affected bone time to heal by avoiding activities that aggravate the pain. Opt for low-impact exercises or cross-training activities that don't put excessive stress on the injured area.
Ice and elevation: Applying ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and swelling. Elevating the injured limb above the heart level can also aid in reducing swelling.
Pain management: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can provide temporary relief from pain and reduce inflammation.
Physical therapy: In more severe cases or for faster recovery, a physical therapist may prescribe specific exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles, improve range of motion, and facilitate healing.
Preventing bone bruising is preferable to dealing with its consequences. Here are some preventive measures runners can take:
Gradual training progression: Increase mileage and intensity gradually, allowing the body to adapt to the stress placed on the bones.
Proper footwear: Invest in good-quality running shoes that
Strength and conditioning: Helps stabilise the joints of the body reducing any excessive forces exerted on them.
Cross training: Performing low impact activities helps the body to recover between running sessions.