Whether you have been running for years or you are new to the world of running, if you have not already, you will likely at some point suffer a running-related injury. While some running injuries can sideline you for a while, others are less serious and may only require you to go a little easier for a time. If you are serious about running, knowing about common running injuries, injury prevention, and treatment is essential.
Runner’s Knee/Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS)
There is a reason Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is often called runner's knee. Roughly 20 percent of running injuries are Runner’s knee, making it the most common injury in the running world. The person will experience pain beneath the kneecap when running. The knee pain is generally the worst after a long run, after going down stairs or a hill, or after extended periods of sitting.
There are several steps you can take to decrease your chances of suffering runner’s knee. One of the keys is to gradually increase your workout. Only increase your distance by 10 percent per week, and slowly increase your hill workouts. You should also run on softer, even surfaces and make sure you have good running shoes. Purchase them from a running store, where you can make sure the shoes are a good fit for you.
While runner’s knee will not necessarily stop you from training, if you start to feel knee pain, you should cut back on your mileage. The sooner you do, the faster your recovery will be. You may also want to do simulated uphill running on a treadmill, as some people have found uphill running is less painful. Only run as far as you can without feeling pain, and ice the injury. You may also find that bicycling, elliptical training, and swimming are good exercises to help your knee to recover. If you experience pain when you wake up that persists throughout the day, you should take a few days off and take it slowly when you return to running.
Another common running injury is Plantar fasciitis. It is small tears or inflammation of the tendons and ligaments running from the heels to the toes. Those experiencing Plantar fasciitis will generally feel a pain along their arches and along the bottom of the heel. The pain may come and go throughout the day.
If you have high or low arches, you are at greater risk of getting Planter fasciitis. You also increase your risk of getting it when you try to increase your mileage too quickly. If your shoes are worn-out or otherwise do not properly support your feet, you are also at greater risk of getting it.
Unfortunately, Planter fasciitis takes time to heal, and continuing to run will increase the time it takes for the injury to heal. You may need to take an extended break from running during the healing process. You might be able to do pool running, swimming, bicycling, and other activities, as long as you can do these things without pain.
While it can be difficult to take time off running to heal your foot, it is important to realize that the sooner you start focusing on healing, the sooner you will be able to get back to your running routine. During the healing process, you should avoid walking around barefoot. You can also ice your foot or roll it over a frozen water bottle to help with the healing process. Doing exercises that stretch and strengthen your calves and foot muscles can also help the foot to heal quicker.
If you have felt an intense pain around your shin bones, you could be experiencing shin splints. The pain may go away when you are not running or doing other physical activity only to return when you try running again. The lower leg muscles may also look inflamed. The injury is caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and the tissue that connects the muscles to the bone.
Like many running injuries, one of the best preventions is to slowly increase your mileage. Wearing the wrong shoes or having low or high arches also puts the person at increased risk of developing shin splints. Slowing increasing your mileage and making sure you have appropriate shoes may help to prevent shin splints. You may also want to switch-up your workout routine. Adding workouts that include jumping or hopping can also work to increase the lower leg’s strength, thereby helping to prevent shin splints.
If you suffer from shin splints, you will want to back off on your running routine and rest your injured shin. You can then slowly increase your mileage at 10 percent per week. Doing low-impact exercises, such as water running, swimming, and bicycling, during the recovery process may also be helpful. If the injury is painful when walking or jumping, rather than just when running, the injury might be a fracture, rather than just shin splints, and it may require more serious treatment.
Along with resting the injured shin or shins, you can ice the affected area several times a day to ease some of the pain. You may also want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever. When you return to running, be sure to do so gradually, or you may find yourself in the same painful position.
A stress fracture is the result of repeated strain upon the bone, such as when running or jumping. The strain results in small cracks in the bone. In runners, it is most common in the shins, feet, or heels. The pain might be minor at first but continue to get worse as you train. The pain will likely decrease or even disappear when you are at rest.
Like most running injuries, one of the best ways to prevent a stress fracture is to slowly increase your training program. If you have weakened bones or foot problems, such as high or low arches, you are also at greater risk of developing stress fractures, therefore it is especially important to make sure you have the proper shoes if you fall into one of those categories. Women are also at greater risk of stress fractures. Fortunately, the longer you have been running, the lower your risk of developing a stress fracture.
While your risk of developing a stress fracture decreases as you run more, that does not mean you should continue to run once you develop one. Stress fractures are one running injury that is going to sideline you for sure for a while, although you can continue to do low-impact exercises.
There are several factors that determine how long you will have to stay off your feet to properly recover from a stress fracture, although you can expect to have to halt your running routine for between eight and sixteen weeks. For example, the foot bones take longer to heal than the shin bones. Also, if you continued to run after suffering a stress fracture, the recovery process will take longer.
Overall, making sure you have the right shoes, gradually increasing your running mileage, and knowing when you should take a break can help to prevent serious running injuries and help you to recover from them faster. If you want to learn more about preventing and treating running injuries, contact us.