If you are physically able to run, adding a 30 minute jog to your daily routine can result in a long list of health benefits. When done consistently, running is an activity that can build strong bones, help you lose weight and increase your muscle mass. As written in an article from Harvard Health, “Running, jumping, and other weight-bearing exercises stimulate your bones and make them stronger.”
However, running too much too soon can cause serious injuries that may take months to heal. If you are a runner or interested in becoming one, it is important to be aware of the types of injuries that may arise from running frequently.
Common Running Injuries:
Running is a non-contact sport. This means that no one is bumping into you, tackling you or jumping on top of you while you are running. Well…unless you are running from a grizzly bear. Therefore, most running injuries are classified as overuse injuries and are caused by repetitive strain to your muscles, ligaments, tendons or bones. There are many different types of running injuries, but shin splints, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis are some of the most common injuries runners fall victim to. So, what are these injuries and how can you prevent them? Read on to find out.
Shin splint pain may be described as either a sharp pain or as a dull and throbbing pain along the inner edge of the tibia. The tibia, also known as the shin, is the anterior front bone in the lower leg. Depending on the severity of the injury, the shins may be sore to touch. Shin splints may develop when repetitive stress is placed on the bone and connective tissues.
A stress fracture is a crack on the bone that is caused by repetitive stress or impact. The fractures occur when your leg muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb the shock of your feet pounding onto hard surfaces. Runners will most often suffer from stress fractures located on bones in the legs or feet.
The plantar fascia is a ligament at the bottom of the foot. It supports the arch and connects the heel to the front of the foot. The plantar fascia absorbs the stress the feet endure while walking, running and jumping. Plantar fasciitis is a condition that can cause pain and discomfort on the bottom of the foot, usually towards the heel. This condition is very common, with more than 2 million individuals seeking treatment for plantar fasciitis every year.
Achilles tendinitis occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes irritated. The Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscle to your heel bone, and is the largest tendon in the human body. The injury typically arises from repetitive stress to the tendon. The most common symptom of Achilles tendonitis is swelling and pain in the backside of your heel. According to AAOS, if you experience a sudden pop in the back of your heel you may have ruptured your Achilles tendon and you should seek care from your doctor immediately.
You may be more prone to developing an overuse injury if you are older or have certain medical conditions. Speak to your doctor or physical therapist to figure out a weekly mileage plan that will best suit you.
Do not let injuries scare you from accomplishing your running and health goals! There are a variety of things you can do that may reduce your risk of being injured.
- Pay attention to your running shoes. As a general rule, your running shoes should be replaced after 450 to 550 miles of use, or every 4 to 6 months. You can use a Garmin watch or download the Strava app onto your smartphone to track your daily mileage. Look out for wear and tear on your shoes, and get new ones if the cushioning or materials are broken-down.
- Stretch! Do a mixture of static and dynamic stretches before and after you run. Static stretches are done in place, while dynamic stretching is based on movement.
- Build up your mileage gradually. If you are new to running, start slow and easy.
- Rest days and sleep. Take a rest day at least once a week to allow your bones and muscles to recover from your workouts. Also, make sure you get enough sleep. The recommendation for adults is 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Mix up your workouts with cross training. Doing other physical activities that are low impact like biking, swimming, aqua jogging and yoga gives your body a chance to use different muscle groups. Cross training may also help you avoid overloading your muscles, ligaments and tendons that are used while running.
PSO Can Help
Unfortunately, even runners who follow these prevention steps carefully may still end up with an injury. If you are in serious pain or want to learn how you can speed up your recovery, the sports medicine physicians and podiatrists at Puget Sound Orthopaedics are here to help.
Call (253) 830 – 5200 or request an appointment online to see one of our physicians.