Being Smart About Preventing Running Injuries

When you lace up your running shoes, can you enjoy a great run without feeling pain after your exercise session? Whether you are running for exercise or training for sports performance, you must be proactive about protecting your body from chronic injuries.

Running is one of the most popular ways to stay in shape. It doesn’t take much – all you need is motivation and a good pair of running shoes.

The problem is that most runners deal with injuries at some point in their training. If you are running regularly, then it’s wise to be proactive about protecting against common injuries.

What are the Most Common Running Injuries?

The repetitive motion of running can take a toll on your joints, bones, muscles, and tendons. So what is the most common runner overuse injury? Runner’s knee is at the top of the list.

Here is a list of other common running injuries you might experience:

  1. Runner’s knee: Pain occurs when the kneecap and thigh bone don’t align properly when moving the joint.
  2. Shin splints: Pain in the front part of the lower legs could be caused by shin splints. This injury is more common when you are running on hard surfaces.
  3. Hamstring injuries: Pain in the back of the upper leg could indicate a hamstring injury. Distance runners are prone to hamstring strains, while sprinters are at risk for hamstring tears.
  4. Achilles tendinitis: Inflammation can affect the tendon that attaches to the heel and calf muscle. This problem usually flares when you increase the intensity or mileage in your training.
  5. IT band syndrome: When the IT band (running from the knee to the outer hip) rubs against the leg bone, it results in pain in the outer area of your leg. This pain usually intensifies when you bend your knee.
  6. Stress fractures: Repetitive impact can result in hairline cracks in the bone. The most common stress fractures in runners affect the heel, lower leg, or top of the foot.
  7. Plantar fasciitis: The foot has layers of tissue that protect the bottom of your feet. If this tissue degenerates, then it can cause pain in the midfoot or heel.
  8. Ankle sprain: If the ligaments between the ankle and leg are overstretched, then it can cause an ankle sprain. Often, sprains happen if you land on the foot wrong and the impact rolls the ankle.
  9. Bursitis: Fluid-filled sacs are located beneath tendons and muscles, helping to keep the joints lubricated. Repeated friction on the joint can irritate these sacs.
  10. Meniscal tear: Sometimes, the cartilage in the knee tears. This injury creates a sensation of the joint locking.
  11. Ingrown toenails: Improper shoe fit can increase the risk of ingrown toenails. The edge of the nail starts to grow into the skin, causing inflammation and pain. If left untreated, it can result in infection.
  12. Calf strain: Tight calf muscles can be aggravated by the repetitive motion of running. As a result, calf strain can lead to pain and discomfort in the calf area.
  13. Anterior compartment syndrome: If the muscles in the front area of the lower leg put pressure on the blood vessels and nerves, then it can be a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

All of these running injuries can cause a range of pain – starting with mild discomfort and leading to serious issues that disrupt your daily activities. If you suspect a running injury, then it’s important to talk to an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Addressing the Root Issues: Poor Running Technique

What injuries can be caused by poor running technique? The truth is that many of the conditions listed above are preventable by addressing your running technique.

The way your body moves when you run affects the joints and tissues. If you push through the pain using poor technique, then it increases the wear and tear on your body.

You can’t outrun the pain. Instead, you need to look at solutions to reduce the pressure and allow your body to move in an optimal way.

How Do You Treat Running Injuries?

Not only do you need immediate treatment to prevent the running injury from worsening, but it’s also vital to be proactive about preventing injury in the future. Here are a few tips from our team of orthopedic and sports medicine specialists:

  1. Choose the right footwear: Running shoes aren’t about style! Select the right shoes that support your feet and provide a solid foundation when you are running. The standard recommendation is to replace running shoes every 400 to 600 miles.
  2. Stretch it out: Keep your muscles loose and limber by practicing stretching exercises regularly. Gently stretch and warm up before you start running. Also, take 5 minutes to stretch at the end of your run.
  3. Cross train with strength exercises: Don’t get stuck in the rut of using running as your only form of exercise. Weak muscles cause some of the running injuries listed above. You can prevent injury by strengthening your muscles.
  4. Pay attention to your symptoms: When you are feeling pain or discomfort, it’s a signal from your body that something is wrong. You know your body better than anyone else! If you are hurting or feeling sluggish, it might be wise to take a day off from your training schedule.
  5. Talk to a sports medicine doctor: Whether you want to eliminate the pain or optimize your performance, it might be time to talk to a sports medicine doctor. Our team offers personal suggestions to prevent injury, as well as treatments to speed up your recovery time.
  6. Set incremental goals: It’s not a smart idea to go from couch potato to running a 5k in a week. If you are starting a new routine or increasing your running schedule, then take it slow. Gradually increase your intensity and timing to help your body get stronger and work up to the new routine.

Schedule a Consultation with a Sports Medicine Doctor

You deserve to feel great and enjoy your workouts at the same time. If you want to improve your running technique and prevent injury, a sports medicine expert can be a great resource. Reach out to our team to schedule a consultation.

We offer personalized services for people of all ages. Whether you are a weekend warrior or professional athlete, our orthopedic doctors can help. We assist in healing and recovery after injury. Additionally, these services are great for optimizing your performance.

For more information about available services, reach out to us at Orthopedic Associates. We’re here to help!

Becki Andrus