Your Guide to Preventing Common Running Injuries
Running is one of the best forms of exercise we can provide for our body. There are so many benefits attributed to running, from boosting confidence and motivating weight loss, to cancer prevention and more. Though the list of health benefits is long, runners are still prone to some common injuries. These can range from minor shin splints to more serious sprains and breaks. While your risk of injury depends on experience and technique, many injuries are caused by overuse. Fortunately, there are several prevention tools and strategies you can implement into your routine as a runner to ensure that you remain in good health.
5 Common Running Injuries & Prevention Methods
As many experienced runners know, running is a great way to stay in shape and can quickly become a highly addictive physical activity. While this is a healthy addiction, poor running technique or pushing yourself too hard can put excess strain on your body.
Read on to learn more about common running injuries and ways you can prevent them:
- Runner’s Knee: Running can put a lot of stress on your knees and result in patellofemoral syndrome or what is more commonly known as, runner’s knee. This condition causes inflammation in the front of your knee and around the kneecap.
- How to Prevent It: Stretch and strengthen the muscles around your knee such as your quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip rotator muscles.
- Shin Splints: If you are new to running, you may experience shooting pains in the lower area of your leg between your knee and ankle. This common condition is known as shin splints and is usually caused by continuous stress and pounding from running on hard surfaces. Ill-fitting footwear can also cause pain.
- How to Prevent It: Take time off running and improve your flexibility in your hips, calves and ankles to ensure your leg is able to move properly while running.
- Achilles Tendonitis: Your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to the back of your ankle. It is an essential tendon for walking and running since it is responsible for raising your heel off the ground. If there is too much stress on this tendon, it will tighten and become inflamed. What’s more, leaving this injury untreated can cause the tendon to rupture resulting in significant pain.
- How to Prevent It: Improve your strength, flexibility and balance. Applying ice, performing light stretches and resting the tendon can also help treat this condition.
- Plantar Fasciitis: One of the worst running injuries is plantar fasciitis. Along with keeping runners sidelined for extended periods of time, this condition causes inflammation, stiffness and pain in the ligament that connects the heel to the top of the foot. This injury most commonly occurs in long-distance runners.
- How to Prevent It: In addition to resting your injured foot, try some light foot and toe stretches to improve symptoms and gently roll out the ligament. Wearing the proper footwear with socks can also help ease pain and pressure and prevent this condition from occurring.
- Stress Fracture: A stress fracture occurs when your bone forms a small crack due to demanding exercise programs. Stress fractures commonly affect your shin, feet and heels. Pain will continue to escalate if you continue to perform physical activity, so it is important to rest and allow the bone to recover.
- How to Prevent It: The best prevention strategies for a stress fracture include easing into exercise, taking rest days, and performing strength training workouts to help your muscles.
Even though it may sound obvious, one of the best ways to prevent these types of running injuries is to give yourself an opportunity to rest and recover. You may also want to consider lowering the intensity of your runs if symptoms are present. While following prevention methods is your best defense against running injuries, working with a physical therapist from Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania can help you make a full recovery if you are already experiencing an injury. If you are not sure how to alleviate your pain, our licensed specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating running injuries. Not only can we help you treat your injuries but we can also provide you with a comprehensive therapeutic program to prevent re-injury and ease you back into training.