Most injured runners avoid the doctor

Medill Reports—CHICAGO—October 8, 2009

When Dan Buehring, 23, ran in this week’s Bucktown 5K, he thought about the painful shin splints he’d recently recovered from.

“It was just really painful to run,” the River North resident said, but he didn’t seek medical attention.

“I just ran through the pain,” Buehring said. “It was highly non-effective.”

Buehring’s behavior is common among runners.

Another reason many avoid treatment is that they might not know they're hurt.

Runners mainly suffer overuse injuries.

Overuse injuries [shin splints, tendonitis] occur over time. Whereas traumatic injuries [broken bones, concussions] football players suffer are specific episodes, such as one tackle.

With 45,000 runners expected for Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, the sport’s popularity is apparent, with the expected outcome.

Total injuries are going up because more people are getting involved in running.

Dr. Sabrina Strickland, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery, said these numbers are driven almost entirely by Generation Y.

"Seventy percent of runners are from the 18-29 age group," she said. “Older people tend to do lower impact sports.”

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