Five Running Injuries That Often Affect Folks Over 45

According to some of the latest research, a sustained period of physical activity may be able to reverse the effects of long-term inactivity among late-middle-age adults. That’s obviously very good news for people in this age group who struggle with obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. The bad news is that these individuals are more at risk for some common running injuries.

A combination of overexertion and poor mechanics causes most running injuries. People who do not run very often have underdeveloped muscles and poor form. So, for these individuals to get healthy and stay healthy, it’s important to have some insight into the following common fitness injuries.

1. Bursitis

Fluid-filled bursa sacs are along the knee and many other joints. Cartilage cushions the areas between bones, and bursa sacs provide a cushion between tendons, ligaments, muscles, skin, and any other non-bone body parts that rub against each other. Primarily due to stress, these sacs can become inflamed. Such inflammation may also occur after a blow to the knee or other traumatic injury. The pain, redness, and swelling are almost always localized on the injured area and often worsen with movement.

The RICE approach effectively treats bursitis and most of the other injuries mentioned in this post.

  • Rest: Since overaction caused the bursitis and made it worse, it stands to reason that inaction will improve bursitis. Patients should avoid putting any weight on the injured area and use crutches if necessary.
  • Ice: There is a very legitimate difference of opinion as to whether runners should ice their injuries at all. Based on a preponderance of the evidence, it’s probably best to ice an injured knee for about twenty minutes at a time two or three times a day.
  • Compression: Adequate compression to promote healing is especially important in late-middle-age when knees and other joints may have some preexisting conditions. Compression reduces inflammation and partially immobilizes the injured area.
  • Elevation: There are a pro and con here as well. Elevation reduces swelling but also restricts blood flow that’s necessary for healing. Try to find a happy medium.

This method also works well for trauma bursitis. If a blow caused the condition, be sure and look for signs of infection (mostly extreme redness and pain).

2. Tendinopathy

Technically speaking, this injury is either tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tissues that connect bones and muscles, or tendinosis (tiny overuse tears in the tendons). Both these injuries are about the same, although tendinosis is a little more common in late-middle-age. If the pain and redness in your knee are a bit generalized, you probably have a tendon injury. Use the RICE method until the injured knee feels, looks, and acts just like the uninjured one. Typically, that takes about three or four weeks.

The plica is the folded tissue that borders the knee joint. Overuse, especially on the heels of prolonged inactivity, sometimes thickens and irritates the plica, causing pain and loss of mobility. In addition to the RICE method, use some knee stretches to strengthen the muscles. That should keep the plica pliable and prevent injury recurrence.

4. IT Band Syndrome

Untreated bursitis often causes Iliotibial Band Syndrome. The IT band is a ligament that runs from the upper thigh to the shinbone. If the knee bursas don’t provide enough cushion, this connective tissue can often become inflamed. The pain is generalized all along the leg and is worst along the outside of the knee. In addition to RICE and stretches, try shortening running strides to decrease pressure on the bursas.


Among middle-aged women, patellofemoral pain syndrome is usually the most common fitness knee injury. Rather ironically, PFPS is also very common among inactive people. Knee flexing, whether it be from running or sitting, usually causes this injury. The pain presents in the front of the knee right around the kneecap. The RICE method usually works, but recovery may be significantly longer than the other injuries in this post. If there is no measurable progress after two or three weeks, consult a physical therapist. The therapist may well refer you to a doctor for surgery.

Congratulations on getting up off the couch! Bookmark this article so it can be a resource if knee pain strikes.

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