Running is an amazing way to stay in shape. It’s free, fun, and promotes physical and mental health. But running can also cause injuries, so it’s important to be aware of the potential issues that can arise as you rack up the miles. This empowers you to take proper precautions, use good form, and continue reaching your fitness goals.
One of the most commonly-experienced injuries seen in runners is tibial stress syndrome, otherwise known as shin splints. It presents as pain in the front of the calf, and is caused by small tears in the muscles surrounding the shin bone. It is common in people new to running, and those who have returned to the sport after a hiatus. Shin splints can also be caused by poorly-fitting shoes distributing weight unevenly.
If you experience the symptoms of shin splints, don’t run through the pain. It’s important to rest, ice the area, do complementary exercises, and slowly return to running. Don’t do too much too soon!
People suffering from plantar fasciitis experience pain in the heels or underneath the arches. This can be particularly severe in the morning, or after a long period of sitting. It’s caused by small tears in the tendons and ligaments that run from the heels to the toes. This condition tends to be common in people with very high or very low arches, or those with poorly-fitting shoes.
To treat plantar fasciitis effectively requires complete rest from running, for a period of three to six months. Although this may seem excessive, failure to recover correctly can cause the condition to recur. During recovery you are welcome to swim, cycle, and complete other low-impact exercises, as long as you aren’t in pain.
Many of us have experienced a sprain at some point in our lives, with our lower extremities being the most susceptible. An ankle sprain occurs when the joint is rolled, twisted, or turned awkwardly. This causes inflammation, bruising, pain, and limited mobility – at least initially.
If you’re suffering from a sprain, the best course of action is to rest the affected limb, with regular icing, compression, and elevation. Don’t return to running until the joint is fully healed, and consult with your doctor if in doubt.
When bones in the feet, such as metatarsals, are placed under cumulative strain, small fissures can occur. This is known as a stress fracture. It causes intense pain, and can present as bruising and swelling in the area. Runners who overtrain are the most susceptible,
Treatment is complete rest for up to four months, and may require isolation of the foot in a cast or air boot. Return to exercise slowly, and build your strength in the pool or on a stationary bike.
Although it is a minor complaint, muscle strains – particularly in the legs – can occur frequently in new and seasoned runners alike. These usually present as pain in the affected area, but can also reduce mobility. If you’re suffering from a muscle strain, rest for a few days, apply ice and take a mild painkiller – such as ibuprofen – if you’re having trouble sitting comfortably or sleeping. In cases or repeated strains in the same area, visit your doctor for a check-up.
Take our advice on board and you’ll be able to enjoy running without injury!