Running Injuries Hurt…the Pockets!

Photo Source

30% to 50% of runners get injured each year. 2002 study by Dr. Jack Taunton, UBC

This is a staggering number if you consider the number of people that run. In Canada, about 35% of the population participates in running or a running related activity. That’s over 12 million runners and up to 6 million of them getting injured each year.

An injured runner will take one of many different actions. Here are four that come to mind:

  • quit running all together
  • stop running until the pain goes away and return to action a few days/weeks later
  • seek medical attention (physio, massage, family physician, chiropractor, etc.) and proceed with professional advice
  • keep running trying to ignore the pain, just making things worse

I am sure there are others I am missing, but you get the point.

I have probably taken all four of these unique paths after sustaining a running injury in the past and have learned from each one (this could be a whole separate post!). Whatever path I have chosen in the past, it has cost not only my fitness/health, but also my money.

How much did ITBS and plantar fasciitis costs me?

I run to stay fit and because I enjoy it – not to save cash. I thought the costs of running injuries however, would be an interesting point to look at.

In a National Post article, Dr. Feed Ferber of the Running Injury Clinic in Calgary estimates $4-billion out-of-pocket expenses are accrued in Canada due to running injuries each year (see our past interview with Dr. Ferber).

This is huge. Running injuries hit the pockets of our healthcare system and individuals.

Back in 2008, I ran the Dublin Marathon. During my training, I developed both iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) and plantar fasciitis.

Six weeks prior to the race, I was not even sure I would even be able to run a half marathon.

In order to keep my marathon dreams alive, I tried a few things:

  1. started receiving weekly physiotherapy treatments (probably the best decision I made) from a physio that specialized in running. Cost = $700
  2. purchased new running shoes (a brand I had never tried before – mistake). Cost = $150
  3. purchased insoles for my running shoes (tried them and ditched’em). Cost = $45
  4. purchased The Stick (liked!). Cost = $50

TOTAL COST to rehab / recover from my running injuries = $945

Again, to me, running is very important and I was determined to run my first marathon. I was a “newbie” to marathon training though.

If I only knew then what I know now….

There are a three simple things, which would have kept my training on track (most importantly!) and cash in my pockets.

  1. adhere to the principle of not doing too much, too soon
  2. perform regular hip strengthening exercises focusing on the abductors
  3. don’t make changes to your running shoes (especially to a brand/model you have never tried – stupid mistake!) in the midst of a training program

How much have running injuries cost you? What would you have done to prevent these injuries? What do you do now to help prevent running injuries?

I welcome your thoughts below in the comments section!

  • Greg Strosaker

    I would imagine being insured versus uninsured (in the US, at least) has a huge impact on the health care costs – honestly, my health care expenses are minimal, until you include the impact of running – and if I paid for them on my own, I wouldn’t be able to afford them (particularly the hernia surgery in 2010 that, while not entirely due to running, was certainly exacerbated by doing so).  Even now, I debate whether to spend $40 / session on what will probably be 5-6 physical therapy sessions to speed (hopefully) recovery from Achilles tendinitis and related issues.  And then wonder if a further $60 x 6 or so sessions of ART from a chiropractor (not covered by insurance) will then be needed to seal the deal, like it was for my hamstring strain last year.