There are many types of injuries happen when running, especially when you run on hard surfaces, apply repeated force for a long period of time or suddenly change training volume, you can easily injured any parts of your body. In this article, I would like to mention some of the most popular running injuries and advices to prevent as well as treat them.
12 Popular Running Injuries
1. Runners’ knee
Runners’ knee is also called patellofemoral pain syndrome. The sign of this injury is a slight pain behind or around the kneecap because the cartilage on the kneecap wears down over time. This sign expresses clearly when you go up or down stairs, squat or bend the knee for a long time.
Runners’ knee is caused by overuse. Besides, repeated force of pounding on hard surfaces, downhill running, weak hips and muscle imbalances can put more stress on your kneecap. Therefore, in order to avoid this, you should choose flat or uphill terrains and try to run on surfaces that are as soft as possible.
To treat this pain, you can ice your knee for 10 to 15 minutes after each run. Decreasing your run frequency and distance by half and not running on consecutive days are also good treatment for knee injury. Besides, experts suggest using knee brace or taping your knee, taking anti-inflammatory medications.
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2. Stress fracture
Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone caused by repeated greater force of pounding than the leg bones permit. This often affects runners in the feet and shin and causes discomfort or pain.
To prevent stress fracture, you should cross training to avoid overuse and reduce the amount of force on leg bones, wear suitable shoes and take enough calcium into the body to keep your bones strong.
If you get this type of injury, resting is important in order to treat and reduce your pain because putting more stress on the bone can make the injuries get worse.
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3. Shin splint
Shin splint is an inflammation of tendons or muscles located around your shinbone. This pain often happens in front or inside the shins. You will recognize it at the beginning of your run. It is caused by increased number of your run days or longer distances too quickly. People with flat feet or new runners are more likely to develop this.
In order to prevent shin splint, you should increase your running distance slowly. Shock-absorbing insoles also help you prevent this type of injury. Besides, choosing proper running shoes with the right fit for the feet, running on softer grounds and avoiding hills are good ways to avoid shin splint as well.
In case you got it, resting, stretching exercises and skipping running until you are pain-free are highly recommended. Additionally, icing the pain area is also very helpful to reduce discomfort caused by shin splint.
4. Achilles tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon which is the large tendon connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. This often causes stiffness and pain in the tendon area, especially in morning activities. Rapid mileage increase, tight calf muscles, improper footwear and even flat feet are the common reasons of this injury.
The best way to prevent this from occurring should start with its reasons. You should wear supportive shoes and always stretch your calf muscles after workout. Avoiding hill climbing, which often places more stress on tendons, also should be considered.
Treatment includes anti-inflammatories, calf stretching, resting, icing the pain area and taking cross-training with lower impact activities for several weeks until your pain gets better.
5. Muscle pull
Muscle pull is also called muscle strain. This pain is often caused by overstretched muscle. Or in other words, when the muscle is overstretched, tendons and fibers can tear and pull the muscles. Besides, inflexibility, overuse and forgetting to warm-up are other possible causes. Muscle pull usually affects the muscles including hamstrings, quadriceps, calf and groin.
In order to prevent muscle pull, runners have to do proper warm-up, dynamic stretching pre-workout and cool-down post-workout.
If the pain persists, skip running for about five days to allow your muscle to relax. Gentle stretching and icing the muscle are also good treatments for this issue.
6. Ankle sprain
Ankle sprain is an accidental tearing or stretching of ligaments around the ankle. This sprain often occurs when the foot twists or the ankle rolls in or outward. Potholes, curbs, tree branches, or just a wrong landing can be the cause of this injury.
You should avoid facing to the causes of ankle sprain to protect your foot from this injury. It is better if you focus on the road when running to avoid these harmful objects. An ankle brace or air cast is also recommended to prevent twisting.
In order to recover, runners should do balance exercises such as single-legged squats in order to strengthen muscles around the ankle. Besides, sprains often get better with rest. The time to rest depends on the sprain’s severity. Ice is also helpful in relieving this pain.
7. Plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an irritation, inflammation, or tearing of the plantar fascia - the thick tissue band on the bottom of the foot extending from the heel to the toes. This often causes a stabbing pain or extreme stiffness in the arch of the foot. People with a high arch and tight calf muscles are easier to have plantar fasciitis. Strapping on unsupportive footwear or excess pounding on the road can be the culprits causing this injury.
Wearing supportive and more cushioned running shoes for plantar fasciitis is the best way to prevent this issue.
Stretching your heels by rolling a tennis ball and resting to help relieve the pain are normal treatment for plantar fasciitis. Doctors suggest wearing night splints, custom orthotics, or getting steroid shots into the heel if your problem persists.
8. IT (iliotibial) band syndrome
IT (iliotibial) band syndrome is an inflammation of the Iliotibial band, a thick tendon running along the outside of the thigh, from the pelvic bone to outside of the knee. Or in other words, this ligament rubs and thickens the knee bone causing IT (iliotibial) band syndrome. This injury often creates pain on the outside of the knee. Suddenly increased mileage, weak hips, or downhill running are common culprits of this issue.
Therefore, in order to avoid it, you shouldn’t increase your mileage too quickly or run downhill. Heat and stretching before exercise is also a good way to prevent the this injury.
Icing the pain area is a quick way to relieve discomfort caused by this injury. Besides, specific stretches combined with foam rolling may reduce inflammation and help decrease pain.
Blisters are sacks that contain fluid on the surface of the skin. These are caused by friction between your skin and shoes. This makes the top layer of skin be torn, leaving bubbles between layers of your skin.
It is easy to prevent. You just choose running shoes with the right fit for your feet and made of soft materials to reduce the risk of friction. Wear a good pair of synthetic socks or apply petroleum jelly on prone blister areas are also highly recommended.
If blisters still appear on your skin, cover them up with special moleskins, Band-Aids, or gels to avoid making them more serious when wearing shoes.
Injuries related to temperature include sunburn, heat exhaustion, frostbite or hypothermia. You can avoid these by staying hydrated, dressing appropriately, and using sunscreen. If you get them, you should rest until feeling better before continuing your runs.
11. Patellar tendinitis
Patellar tendinitis is popular among distance runners. These are small tears in the patellar tendon, which connects shinbone to kneecap. Patellar tendinitis is often caused by overuse, over-pronation, and too many hill repeats.
To decrease the risk of patellar tendinitis, you should strengthen the quads and hamstrings at home or gym as well.
Ice the knee is a quick way to reduce pain. Physical therapy is also recommended to help strengthen and soothe the tendon.
12. Side stitches
Side stitches is also called exercise-related transient abdominal pain. This pain is often caused by the diaphragm spasm because of overworked or poor running posture. If it occurs to you, try breathing with pursed lips or bending forward to tighten the core to help relieve pain.
General tips to prevent common running injuries
I have mentioned above the 12 most popular running injuries with some specific ways to avoid and treat each one. And here I would like to recommend general tips to prevent common running injuries.
- Create a reasonable running plan: you should talk to a trainer before starting a running routine. She/ He can help you create a reasonable running plan for your current fitness abilities and your limits to avoid overtraining. Make sure to spend at least one day per week to rest and mix hard trainings with some easier recovery runs.
- Apply the 10 percent rule: Don't increase running distance by more than 10 percent per week. Increasing distance too much and too quickly often causes overuse injuries.
- Warm up and cool down: Remember to warm up and cool down pre and post-workout to ease your body, avoid intense strain in muscles and help keep injuries at bay.
- Replace your sneakers if they are not supportive: After a long time of using, your shoes will be worn down or not supportive anymore and that can cause unexpected injuries. Besides, choosing shoes with a lot of support can help you prevent and treat your foot problems.
- Combine with strength training: strength straining such as lifting can help strengthen bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles to withstand pounding on pavements, especially it helps strengthen hips. Weak hips often lead to higher rates of injury.
- Try running on even and softer surfaces: Running on uneven surfaces usually put unnecessary and more stress on ligaments causing injuries related to ligaments. Additionally, rough terrains can make ankles twist easier; that is also the cause of many common running injuries. Therefore, it is better to run on even and soft surfaces to make sure safety for your foot.
I think that this article is not only helpful for beginners but also pro runners. Beginners can get necessary information to prepare for a healthy running life. Pro runners might find more ways to avoid as well as treat injuries that they had and might have in the future to improve their running lives.