While running is a great sport for exercise, endurance and staying centered, just like any sport it can hurt as much as help your body if you do it improperly. In addition to muscle strains and ankle sprains, here are 5 common running injuries along with strategies you can employ to avoid succumbing to them.
- Runner’s knee. This injury is unfortunately so common that it calls out runners in its name! A case of runner’s knee is often caused by doing too much too fast. Without proper conditioning, painful inflammation can occur around the kneecap. To prevent this, work on strengthening the muscles around your knees, as well as quadriceps, calves and hamstrings for better support for your knees. PopSugar recommends some of the best running stretches for avoiding runner’s knee such as wall sits, hamstring stretches, calf stretches against a wall, and lateral stretches. Find detailed instructions here.
- Plantar fasciitis. PF can happen when you’re pounding the pavement for extended periods of time and the plantar fascia ligament in your foot gets inflamed, resulting in intense pain in the heel of the foot. One of the best ways to prevent this injury is to make sure your feet are getting the right arch support and cushioning right off the bat. Choose a well-fitting, lightweight running shoe and insert a shoe insole such as Powerstep’s Pinnacle Maxx or Pulse to make sure your feet are cushioned and stabilized for your run. Already a plantar fasciitis sufferer? Try these tips for pain relief in addition to your insoles.
- Shin splints. This pain in the shin can often be a result of overworked legs. It cannot be stressed enough not to do too much too soon. Increase mileage slowly and try these stretches recommended by Runner’s World to build up strength: toe curls, monster walks, heel drops, and one-legged bridges.
- Stress fracture. If your body is being pushed too far beyond its limits, you could end up with a stress fracture, which will set your training back by several months. This small crack in a stressed bone means you need to ease up quite a bit. But don’t let it get to this point! Avoid stress fractures by “reducing the stress on your bones and building or maintaining their strength. It is also important to look at your training as a whole, making sure that you incorporate down weeks into your training to allow for that bone to become stronger.”1 Work to increase muscle strength and also consider increasing your stride frequency to reduce the impact to your bones and avoid overextending.
- Achilles tendinitis. A common result of overstriding, Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation in the tendon behind the ankle and above the heel. Physical therapist Joe Uhan suggests preventing Achilles tendinitis by shortening stride, being sure to engage glutes when pushing off rather than using your toes, and building up mileage and speed appropriately instead of pushing yourself too hard.2
In general, the theme here is to know your body and its limits. Be careful to gradually work up to more intensive workouts and runs, and don’t overdo it. Too much of a good thing – even running – can be too hard on your body.
Looking for products that can help with pain from running injuries? Try these:
Patella strap – for runner's knee
Knee band – for IT pain
Achilles tendon strap – for tendinitis
Reflective calf sleeve – for shin splints/muscle cramps
1. [Davis, John. (n.d.). “The Ultimate Runner’s Guide to Stress Fractures: Causes, Risk Factors and How to Return to Training.” Retrieved from https://runnersconnect.net/running-injury-prevention/runners-guide-to-stress-fractures/]
2. [O’Mara, Kelly. (2014, March 18, updated January 18, 2016). “How to Beat Achilles Tendinitis.” Retrieved from http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/injury-prevention/beat-achilles-tendinitis_97105]