May 15, 2017 Patient Education 1

Runners Injuries – Causes, Avoidance & Treatments

Starting a running program can be intimidating, yet rewarding. It’s no wonder why so many new runners ignore signs of injury. Many fear addressing an injury will impede their progress. Ignoring injuries, however, can cause further damage and sideline runners longterm. Here are five common running injuries and how to treat them for a quick recovery.

1. Runner’s Knee

Where It Hurts:
The area around the kneecap.

What Causes It:
Overuse, imbalance and compensating for knee or foot issues can all lead to runner’s knee, also called patellofemoral pain syndrome.

How It Can Be Avoided:
Deep stretching that includes lunges, squats and plies can assist in limbering your quads, hamstrings and calves throughly.

How To Get Relief:
Get immediate relief by applying ice. Some trainers recommend loosening your iliotibial band (ITB) with a foam roller; however, the gluteus medius is often the problem. The glute med can be strengthened with exercises allowing full thigh extension, such as a one-leg split squat or a stiff leg dead lift.

An orthopedic or physical therapist can determine precise stretches and assist in proper placement of elastic therapeutic tape for future runs. Regular corticosteroid shots to combat inflammation may also be recommended by therapists. Severe cases of runner’s knee may require surgery. A surgeon would, in that case, replace damaged cartilage and possibly reposition the kneecap to distribute joint stress more evenly.

2. Plantar Fasciitis

Where It Hurts:
The plantar fascia is the ligament connecting the heel bone to the toes. Once inflamed, runners will have pain on the bottoms of their feet.

What Causes It:
Weakening, tearing or swelling of the plantar fascia caused by intense workouts or standing for long periods of time.

How It Can Be Avoided:
Proper stretching off the calves, plantar fascia and arch can prevent tears in this ligament, which supports the arch.

How To Get Relief:
Using a splint while resting can alleviate some of the pain associated with plantar fascitis. During the day, roll a frozen water bottle back and forth under the affected foot. Not only will the ice ease the pain, the motion keeps the ligament limber.

An orthopedic or physical therapist may suggest corticosteroid or botulinum toxin injections if home remedies and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) aren’t working. Severe cases of plantar fasciitis can take up to 6 months to heal and occasionally require surgery. The procedure requires cutting the ligament and is commonly coupled with a related repair. For instance, the surgeon may also remove a heel spur or loosening foot nerves as well.

3. Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Where It Hurts:
Although this ligament runs from the pelvis to the shin, those suffering from a tight iliotibial band (IT band) are most likely to suffer from knee pain.

What Causes It:
The ligament helps with balance as you run or walk, but avoiding stretches, wearing poorly-fitting shoes, or adding mileage to your workout too soon can all aggravate the IT band.

How It Can Be Avoided:
Strengthening glutes is key to avoiding this injury. A foam roller can assist in kneading the IT band, but it’s also important to slowly increase the length of your run, have your gait analyzed for proper shoe fit, avoid excessive downhill running or running the same direction on a track for long periods of time.

How To Get Relief:
Stretch the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Orthotics may also bring relief. Doctors may suggest physical therapy before returning to regular activities. In rare cases, a surgeon will suggest the resection of the posterior portion of the IT band if the patient has suffered more than 9 months and has completed physical therapy without improvement.

4. Piriformis Syndrome

Where It Hurts:
Pain or tingling in the posterior and/or all the way to the toes.

What Causes It:
The piriformis muscle in your posterior, which helps maintain balance as you shift from one foot to the other, can spasm from time to time and compress tightly around the sciatic nerve. It can cause pain in the posterior or a tingling that travels all the way to your feet.

How It Can Be Avoided:
Strengthen the glutes by working your pelvic muscles, back and abs.

How To Get Relief:
One of the more popular running treatments for this injury is to use a tennis ball to massage your glutes throughout the day to keep the muscle loose and decrease pain or numbness.

An doctor or therapist will examine your posture, gait, reflexes, and ask about unusual skin sensations. Injections are the first line of defense when anti-inflammatories aren’t sufficient in managing pain. A therapist or doctor may also test blood or urine to rule out infection or arthritis. X-rays and MRI scans can be helpful in determining this condition, as well as a bone scan. As a last resort, surgical procedures include cutting the piriformis tendon or piriformis muscle to take pressure off the sciatic nerve.

5. Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis

Where It Hurts:
Foot or ankle.

What Causes It:
Ill-fitting shoes are commonly associated with tendonitis.

How It Can Be Avoided:
Have your gait professionally analyzed when purchasing shoes. Strengthening lower calves can also prevent this injury.

How To Get Relief:
To ease pain, try ice therapy. While recovering, consider low-impact exercises that will put less pressure on the feet. Orthotics may be used to upgrade your current shoes. It’s best to have a professional fit you with inserts.

A rehabilitation program may also be recommended. An orthopedist or podiatrist may want to remove or repair parts of the tendon. Another tendon from your foot may be used to replace the posterior tibialis tendon.

Conclusion

Most running injuries are not serious, but it’s always a good idea to get evaluated by a professional. Common remedies, like injections and orthotics, can make a world of difference. The sooner you treat the injury, the sooner you can get back into your stride.

Eric Turner on Linkedin
Eric Turner
Eric Turner is a content writer who has been working with Orthopedic Associates since early 2017. Eric started writing the day after he learned to read, and hasn't stopped since.