Issue: July 2016
July 08, 2016
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Physical therapy resolved injuries in ultra-runners

Issue: July 2016
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While lower extremity musculoskeletal injuries are common among ultra-runners, treatment through physical therapy has been shown to resolve a high percentage of these injuries, according to a presenter here.

“Research based on a questionnaire survey of 200 runners from 11 countries found knee pain [came] in near the top at 22%, with shin and calf and foot and ankle injuries not that far behind,” Nicole Haas, PT, DPT, OCS, of Haas Physical Therapy and Wellness, said.

She noted another study showed similar results, with knee pain being reported by 24% of patients followed by iliotibial band issues at 16% and back pain at around 12%. Previous research also showed overuse was one of the main causes of injury.

Nicole Haas, PT, DPT, OCS
Nicole Haas

In the treatment of injuries in ultra-runners, Haas noted physical therapy has been shown to resolve issues in 72% of injuries. She also said it is important to know the biomechanics of the patient and the correlations between different running styles and of those styles the demands on the structures of the body.

“It is important to know if you have a forefoot runner, for example, it may unload the anterior knee, but it is also going to increase the demand on the plantar fascia on the Achilles and on the calf.”

According to Haas, ultra-runners are presented with several challenges during ultra-races, with one of the biggest challenges being environmental due to the races taking place in the mountains, the desert or the arctic. She noted ultra-runners should aware of the possibility of altitude sickness, the unpredictability of weather patterns and the risk of frostbite or hyperthermia.

Hyponatremia is also a challenge according to Haas.

“If you have a runner who tells you they have been hydrating, they have been drinking a lot but they still feel thirsty and they look like they are a bit dehydrated, you need to figure out if they have low salt,” Haas said. “In these hot races, that can be a serious problem and it needs medical attention quickly.” – by Casey Tingle

Disclosure: Haas reports no relevant financial disclosures.