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Palm Beach Podiatry

Running Injuries: What You Need to Know

People do not typically engage in an activity with the hopes of getting hurt. The complete opposite is true—especially with working out or athletic participation. It’s rather unfortunate, but whenever you are physically active, there will be a certain degree of risk for injury. This is plain to see when we talk about running injuries.

Man Running on Road at SunsetCommon Running Injuries

Frequently seen injuries for runners generally fall into one of two categories – overuse or traumatic. Overuse injuries are simply ones that come from the repetitive nature of running. Every step you take places a tremendous amount of stress on your lower limbs, and runners take many steps! The stress collectively adds up and can lead to problems.

On the other side of the spectrum, traumatic injuries are sustained from a specific incident. An example of this is when your foot lands awkwardly on an exposed tree root while running on a trail. Whether trauma or overuse is to blame, here are some of the more common running injuries:

Ankle Sprains

Even for non-runners, ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries, but running certainly increases the risk. The ligaments that surround your ankle are only intended to stretch so far. When they are pushed beyond their limits, they respond by tearing and becoming inflamed.

Achilles Tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is the body’s largest, strongest tendon. This doesn’t mean it is invincible, however. Tendinitis is an overuse injury that often happens on account of tight calf muscles, repetitive stress, or doing “too much, too soon.”

Stress Fractures

Most people associate broken bones with blunt force, but stress fractures are hairline cracks in the surface of the bone that develop over time. The primary cause is starting with too much intensity or duration, without giving the body a chance to adapt to a new, physically stressful activity.

Plantar Fasciitis

If you wake up and experience a stabbing pain in your heel first thing in the morning, plantar fasciitis is the likely culprit. This is a common overuse injury that happens when the plantar fascia—a thick band of fibrous tissue running along the bottom of your foot—becomes inflamed. This condition is more prominently seen in patients who have tight calf muscles and/or either high or low arches.

Other injuries that runners experience include shin splints, sesamoiditis, heel spurs, and blisters.

Treatment

As we previously mentioned, treatment for running injuries is often conservative in nature. Typically, care starts at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE therapy). The resting gives your body time to heal, while at the same protecting the injured area from greater damage. Ice, compression, and elevation all work to minimize swelling and promote circulation, which provides helpful nutrients to the area.

Prevention

Even though a surgical procedure is not usually required for these injuries, it is simply better to avoid them in the first place as best as you can. In order to do so, take the following steps:

  • Have the right equipment. Fortunately, running does not require a lot, but the equipment it does—running shoes—is highly important. Be sure to choose footwear that fits properly.

  • Warm up and stretch prior to going out for a run. Do a 5-10 minute warm-up first and then follow by stretching your calves and other leg muscles.

  • Begin any new workout program with lower levels of intensity and duration, and then gradually progress by increasing those levels by no more than 10% each week.

  • Avoid making drastic changes to an existing workout program. Instead, ease into them using the same mindset you should have when you start becoming physically active.

  • Cross-train with low-impact exercises to decrease the amount of stress placed on your lower limbs.

Prevention and home treatment for running injuries can be helpful, but there might be times when you need professional assistance. We hope those aren’t often, but we are here for you when they happen. If you need more information or treatment for an injury, contact Palm Beach Podiatry today. Either use our online form or call any of our three locations - Boynton Beach at (561) 734-3100; Loxahatchee at (561) 791-7773; or Fort Pierce at (772) 468-0089.

Photo Credit: Sura Nualpradid via freedigitalphotos.net