As more Taiwanese develop a passion for running, the number of sports injuries has gone up as well.
Citing the increased number of exercise-related ailments, Chiang Yi-pin (姜義彬), director of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Mackay Memorial Hospital, said that strength training is important to avoid common injuries like iliotibial band friction syndrome, better known as runner’s knee.
Most runners know about the need to warm up before a race, but Chiang said that stretching afterward is even more important.
Muscle weakness in the thighs, hips or legs can put knees in an abnormal position, causing the iliotibial bands to rub against the knee bones, Chiang said.
“We exhaust our leg muscles after a long run, and stretching is the best way to realign muscle fibers and speed up the recovery process,” he said.
It can also be beneficial to apply an ice pack to the knee area for about 10 minutes after a run, Chiang said.
“What’s more important is to not overdo running, as a sudden start to exercise often leads to injuries,” he said.
“Start with a short distance and go a little further each time,” he added.
Running places a lot of stress on knee joints and proper running shoes can reduce the impact and help prevent injuries, he said.
Proper shoes are a “good investment,” as the knees have to deal with at least three times the body’s regular weight while running, said Tseng Ko-da, deputy researcher at the Taichung-based Footwear and Recreation Technology Research Institute.
“Everyone, young and old, should take the proper measures to protect their knees and joints. Do it before it’s too late,” he said.
The ethylene vinyl acetate material used in many running shoes is a good choice because of its light weight and shock-absorbing properties, the researcher said, adding that arch-support insoles are beneficial to most foot types.
The insoles might slow down running speed a little, but provide better cushioning for the feet, Tseng said.