In a perfect world, every run would be better than the last. You’d shatter your PRs with ease and do so while feeling limber, energized, and free of pain. But let’s face it – that’s not how life works.
In reality, most runners deal with some sort of disturbance – whether a sore knee, tender ankle, or tight hamstring – every time they run. These ‘injuries’ might not be bad enough to bench you, but they don’t let you fully enjoy your runs.
When it comes to running injuries, there are a few in particular that frequently plague runners. Whether your injury becomes a one-time annoyance or a long-term problem largely depends on how you react when you feel that initial twinge of pain. If you get a handle on these injuries early on, you can stop a minor injury from turning into a bigger injury that forces you to take time off.
The 8 Most Common Running Injuries & How to Prevent Them
Take a look at eight of the most common running injuries, how to treat them, and how to prevent them from putting a damper on your future runs.
1. Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee is a common injury amongst runners who push themselves too far. While runner’s knee has several causes, it’s most often caused by the kneecap being out of alignment.
The cartilage on your kneecap wears down over time, but this can be exaggerated by long-distance running. When the kneecap wears down, you may feel pain in the area – especially when going up or down the stairs, sitting and standing, and having your knees bent for a long time.
The best way to treat runner’s knee is to reduce your mileage and take extra rest days. We also recommend doing exercises that strengthen your gluteal muscles (like running uphill) because strong gluteal muscles help control the movement of the hips and thighs. This in return prevents the knees from turning inward, decreasing your risk of runner’s knee.
2. Stress Fracture
A stress fracture is when there is a small crack in a bone that causes discomfort or pain. Runners typically experience this common injury in their feet and shins.
Stress fractures in runners are typically caused by working too hard before your body is acclimated to a new activity. You may notice that your pain gets better with rest and worsens with activity. For those with stress fractures, rest is extremely important since continued stress on the bone can lead to complications. Preventing stress fractures also involves a holistic approach.
3. Shin Splints
Shin splints cause pain along your shin bone and the surrounding area. This injury is common after making a change to your workout. If you suddenly start running longer distances, for example, your body doesn’t have time to adapt. Shin splint and stress fracture symptoms are similar, but shin splints tend to cause pain directly along the bone but show no fracture on an X-ray.
Shins splints almost always heal on their own within a few weeks. In the meantime, it’s important to rest, stretch, and return to activities slowly once you’re healed.
4. Achilles Tendinopathy
Achilles tendinopathy is sometimes called tendinitis and is when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed. Achilles tendinopathy occurs when there is repetitive stress on the tendon. This can happen when you add too much distance to your running routine too quickly, instead of increasing mileage gradually.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, typically after activity and in the morning. The best treatment is typically R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
5. Pulled Muscle
A pulled muscle occurs whenever a muscle experiences a small tear. Also known as a muscle strain, runners frequently experience this injury due to overstretching their muscles. Muscle strains most commonly occur in the calf, hamstring, groin, or quadriceps.
Pulled muscles almost always heal on their own. If you experience a muscle strain, the best treatment is typically R.I.C.E. We also recommend ice baths for a faster recovery.
6. Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments surrounding the ankle are torn or overstretched. This often happens when the foot twists or rolls inward, making an ankle sprain one of the most common injuries among runners.
Mild strains will typically heal on their own and when treated with R.I.C.E. Moderate or severe ankle sprains may need medical attention.
7. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia. The injury can sometimes occur without any obvious reason, but it is linked to increased physical activity.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis includes R.I.C.E., calf stretches, and making sure you wear good shoes at all times.
8. IT Band Syndrome
IT band syndrome occurs when the iliotibial ligament thickens and rubs along the knee bone. This can cause inflammation and pain in the knee and the surrounding area.
The best treatment for IT band syndrome is to cut back on exercise. Although this can be hard for dedicated runners, cutting back on exercise can help reduce the swelling. In addition, be sure to ice the area after activity and spend enough time warming up properly before a run.
Request An Appointment At The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At the Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re suffering from a running-related injury, let us help you get back to doing what you love. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.