5 Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Running is a great way to get a little exercise, reduce stress, and improve your quality of life. However, just because running has so many positive attributes doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. In fact, running can lead to a number of injuries. Whether you’re a seasoned, serious runner or someone who runs occasionally, there’s a good chance you’ll experience an injury caused by running.
The best way to avoid any running injury is to follow a few common-sense practices. Your routine should include:
- A good warm-up and stretching regimen
- Strength training
- Rest days to let your body heal
- Proper running techniques including stride, strike, and posture
- The right running shoes for your running style and arch support needs
Here, we’ll cover five of the most common running injuries and how you can avoid them.
1. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is an injury of the connective tissue in the foot caused by inflammation. This very common running injury can lead to pain in the heel and is most noticeable at the beginning of the day. People with either very flat or very high arches are most at risk for this injury.
How to Avoid Plantar Fasciitis
Stretching, proper footwear, and good running technique will help you avoid this pernicious injury. Because tight calf muscles and inflexible ankles can lead to this injury, a good pre-run stretching regimen is recommended. When your calves and ankles are warm, loose, and strong, you’ll minimize your chance of this injury.
Running shoes with the right arch support for your foot will also help you avoid plantar fasciitis. Finally, good technique is the best way to reduce your risk of injury. Repetitive heel strikes can lead to plantar fasciitis. It’s important that you land mid-foot in your stride. This will help you avoid injury and fatigue.
2. Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee is one of the most common running injuries. In fact, it’s an ailment so common to runners that it’s actually named after them. Patellofemoral pain syndrome, otherwise known as runner’s knee, can be identified by pain behind and around the kneecap. This injury is most often caused by improper running technique and mechanics.
How to Avoid Runner’s Knee
If you do suffer from runner’s knee, there’s good news: it can be treated and even avoided. The best way to treat runner’s knee is a combination of rest, strengthening exercises, using a knee sleeve, and tweaking your running mechanics to properly align your stride.
Strengthening your hips, quads, and hamstrings will help you achieve better flexibility, better strength, and better technique. If you do start to notice some pain behind your kneecap, take a few days off from running and let your body heal itself. When you do resume running, use a compression knee brace to protect and align your joint. Wondering what knee brace you should use? Here is a collection of some of the best knee braces for runners.
3. Shin Splints
Shin splints, also called medial tibial stress syndrome, is an injury caused by inflammation in the tissue, muscles, and tendon around the tibia. This injury is most commonly caused by increasing your running distance or running after an extended period of inactivity. However, it can also be caused by improper footwear, improper arch support, and repetitive striking during the running stride.
How to Avoid Shin Splints
Shin splints are one of the most common running injuries, but also one of the easiest to avoid and treat. If you do plan to increase your running distance, do so gradually to avoid tibial stress. Likewise, if you have taken an extended period of time away from running and plan to start again, start slow. Build your way up to longer run distances slowly to avoid injuring your out-of-use tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
In order to avoid shin splints, ensure you have proper-fitting shoes that provide the right arch support for your foot. Replace your running shoes when they begin to become worn out. Running in worn-out shoes can lead to shin splints and other injuries.
4. Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is an injury caused by inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This legendary tendon runs down the back of your leg and connects to your heel. Achilles tendonitis is identified by pain down the back of your leg and right above the heel. A spike in physical activity, improper footwear, and improper running technique are all leading causes of Achilles tendonitis.
How to Avoid Achilles Tendonitis
The best way to avoid and treat Achilles tendonitis is rest, strength training, compression sleeves, and proper footwear. If you do start to develop pain in your Achilles tendon, the best way to treat it is to decrease activity, use ice treatment, take mild anti-inflammatory analgesics, and begin to strengthen it before resuming activity.
5. IT Band Syndrome
IT (Iliotibial) band syndrome is a common knee injury that is most often associated with repetitive motion and activity like cycling, hiking, weightlifting, and of course, running. This injury differs from runner’s knee injuries in a few ways. For one, this injury is felt on the outside of the knee joint, most often between the hip and the knee. The IT ligament runs outside of the thigh, and can become inflamed when it rubs against bones in the knee.
This injury often affects long-distance runners, stair runners, and runners who most often exercise on uneven surfaces.
How to Avoid IT Band Syndrome
The best way to treat this injury is just what you would expect: rest, strength training, proper technique, and proper footwear. Using one of the best knee braces for runners can also help you treat and avoid this injury.
Stay Healthy, Stay Active
Running is a great way to stay in shape, remain active, burn calories and stress, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But running can be hard on your joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. To avoid common running injuries, make sure you implement a solid stretching and warm-up routine, take frequent rest days, and refrain from overexerting yourself.