Top 5 Running Injuries and How to Prevent & Treat Them
While running is a popular activity that presents a number of important health benefits, it’s not without its risks. Running injuries can affect anyone, from experienced runners who push treat them themselves hard to beginners whose muscles are not used to running. Many runners experience an injury at some point or another, due to overuse, improper technique, or another similar factor. So what are some of the most common running injuries? Below we cover five of the most common running injuries and how to treat them.
Chondromalacia patellae, also known as runner’s knee, is a term describing any damage or irritation to the cartilage under your kneecap. The exact cause is not known, but may be related to repetitive stress on the knee joint, or trauma to the kneecaps. It’s typically associated with a dull pain in the knee, which can be aggravated when your leg is bent.
To treat the injury, it is helpful to apply ice to the knee and incorporate targeted stretching (you can learn even more with our Knee Injury Prevention Specialist Course). Hold an ice pack on the painful area for around 20 minutes a few times a day. To stretch the area, lying on your side with your injured leg on top. Bend your top leg so that your foot goes back towards your bottom, then hold it there with your hand and keep both knees touching. Hold the stretch for 45-60 seconds, breathing deeply and feeling the stretch in the thigh. Repeat this approximately six times a day.
If the pain is severe or the knee is swollen, see your Doctor or Sports Medicine Specialist. If your knee pain is not severe, curtail your running and if pain doesn’t go away after a week, then go see your Doctor or Sports Medicine Specialist.
A common overuse injury, Achilles tendinitis is essentially an inflammation of the Achilles tendon – what connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. You may have pain and swelling at the back of the ankle or heel. The pain may be minor but continuous, or it could be sudden and sharp.
To treat Achilles pain at home applying ice to the area but not directly on your skin. You can also gently massage the area with a foam roller. See your Doctor or Sports Medicine Specialist if you have Achilles pain that doesn’t disappear after three to four weeks, or if you have a sudden, sharp pain. Even if the pain is not severe, it’s a good idea to rest until the pain goes, and get it checked if it doesn’t go away.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and affects over 2 million people each year. It occurs when there is too much pressure placed on the heel, damaging the plantar fascia – the ligament that connects the front of your foot to your heel. Pain or swelling in the heel or bottom of the foot can occur if you suddenly start doing a lot more running, if you run uphill or if your shoes aren’t supportive enough or are worn out.
Rolling the bottom of your foot across a bottle of frozen water if the best way to apply ice, and message at the same time. Place the bottle of frozen water on the floor and roll it back and forth under your foot for about 20 minutes. Specific plantar fascia stretches are a good idea too. Stop running and see your Doctor or Sports Medicine Specialist if there is a lot of swelling in the heel or in the area under your foot.
A term used to describe medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints can cause runners to feel pain on the inner side of the shin, both during rest and exercise. This can lead to increasing damage to the area, which can result in a sudden sharp pain that stops you from running altogether. It’s caused by excessive stress to the shins, and results in small tears in the muscles around the shin bone. Pain can be relieved by applying ice to the area regularly for the first few days, however if the pain is had not improved in 2-3 weeks see your Doctor or Sports Medicine Specialist.
Defined as tiny cracks in a bone, stress fractures occur due to repetitive force and are commonly seen in long-distance runners. Symptoms include localized pain and swelling that grows worse over time. Stress fractures can occur over a period of days, weeks, or even months, and may be avoided by modifying running equipment, training regimens, and by replace running shoes on a regular basis (about every 400-500 miles). Stress fractures are like any other fracture in the body and require 8-10 weeks to heal completely. Treatments may include complete rest and icing, and/or immobilization using casting or bracing of the affected area.
How to Prevent Running Injuries
For runners who want to reduce their risk for injury, here a few easy tips you can follow.
Wear the Right Shoes
The right pair of running shoes can play a huge part in injury prevention. Make sure to select a pair of shoes with the contour of your feet in mind – and buy for comfort, not just looks. It’s best to go to a running shop to get fitted. Expensive shoes are not necessarily better. Although the most expensive shoes may be more durable and lightweight, and are more suitable for people running long distances, running shoe brands make less expensive versions that are suitable for beginners.
Build Up Slowly
Don’t be tempted to increase the intensity or distance of your running too quickly. Do a similar run at least three or four times before you increase your pace or distance.
Listen To Your Body
Many of the most common running injuries are caused by overuse. This is where the adage “No Pain No Gain” should be ignored. Don’t push through the pain – if your body is telling you to stop, continuing on will typically only worsen your condition.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Proper warm up is essential before you start running. Five to 10 minutes of brisk walking or gentle jogging before you begin your workout will warm your muscles up and help prevent injury. To cool down, carry on running at an easier pace or walk for five to 10 minutes. This will help your body recover after your run.
Post Cool Down Stretch
Stretching after a run is a crucial component in preventing injury, as it can loosen up the muscles that are most susceptible to damage. Using a foam roller for myofascial release is also a great tool to loosen tight muscles and tight tendons as well.
Whatever your injury, it’s important to listen to your body. Don’t run if you’re in pain and only start running again when you’ve recovered sufficiently – stay motivated!