Running is a great tool for staying trim as well as for cardiovascular health, in general. Running offers the benefits of promoting increased lung capacity and even prevention of many chronic diseases. It is a go-to form of exercise for many and has almost a cult following in terms of how true runners LOVE to run. With this passion, however, comes the threat of certain running-related injuries. This by all means, should not hinder your dreams of becoming a runner or completing your first marathon. Rather, you should heed some of this advice going forward so to protect yourself from some of the inevitable wear and tear that comes along with this great sport.
Every runner has their own style. With that said, there is no single indicator of the various running injuries that may occur. A number of factors play into what type of injury someone may experience. Training is one factor as the method of running can easily affect the strain on different parts of the body. Even the highest trained athletes, however, are prone to injury just by the mere fact of overuse and continuous wear and tear that comes along with practicing the activity over time.
The physical regions of running injuries are often referred to as the “kinetic chain.” This includes the pathway from the feet, ankles, shins, calves up to the knees and hips. This does not mean that one will definitely experience injuries in this order, but it is important to understand that all of these types of injuries are interlinked, therefore if you are experiencing one type of injury, you may also want to take preventive measures to make sure that you do not further injure other body parts belonging to this chain.
Your feet are obviously very integral to running as they tend to bear all of your weight at some point during the activity. Everyone has a different foot shape and arch pattern, as you may know from selecting your everyday footwear. Because in the diversity of arch, in particular, this affects the way the weight is distributed and the shock absorbency of each step. As you may guess, shock that is not absorbed in the foot, then goes to another part of the kinetic chain. One common foot injury is plantar fasciitis, which is caused by inflammation in the heel. The fascia muscles, which have been discussed in previous articles, are affected with this injury.
Different forms of bursitis and tendonitis are also common injuries, as they are the result of the inflammation of the bursa and tendons, respectively. These commonly occur in the Achilles tendon as seen in Achilles tendon bursitis or even on the top of the foot with injuries such as Extensor tendinitis.
These foot injuries may be prevented by use of proper running shoes. An orthopedist may even prescribe an orthopedic shoe, arch or heel strap to treat existing foot injuries, depending on the specific location of the injury.
Stress fractures are another common leg injury that may occur up the legs, at the hips and usually exist in runners who do long-distance, endurance running. Proper nutrition is one method of prevention and treatment obviously needs to be conducted by a physician for any type of fracture.
“Runner’s knee” aka patellofemoral syndrome, as you may have guessed from the name, is another common injury. Often, this condition is accompanied by general knee pain and refers to other more specific, running-related knee injuries. Prevention methods include proper stretching as well as maintaining proper form and mechanics to make sure that you are not literally pounding the pavement, allowing your knees to absorb all of the shock. Self-massage is a great way to self-treat, especially if you experience general knee pain.
Shin splints are very common injury among regular runners. It is actually not a diagnosis, but a set of symptoms that are related to pain in the front of the leg (between your knee and ankle, opposite your calf). These occur due to issues with the muscle-bone attachment. Stretching of the calf and shin is an important piece to preventing this injury. To treat, you may have to subside from your regular running routine until the pain dissipates.
Running injuries are almost always related to overuse, therefore, limiting your frequency slightly may help, especially if you have already begun to see signs of minor injuries. You do not have to eliminate your passion all together, but you may want to integrate some cross-training (e.g. walking, elliptical) so that you are a little gentler in your daily exercise.
Depending on the severity of the injury, orthopedic footwear may be necessary. This requires that you see an orthopedic specialist, instead of self-diagnosing. He or she may also recommend an assortment of straps and other tools as treatment. Self-massage is another great method to eliminate pain that may occur with minor injuries.
Running is a wonderful, healthy tool that offers amazing health benefits, and based on some of these common injuries, there are plenty of ways to prevent them, seeing how they mostly boil done to overuse. Acute injuries should always be treated by an orthopedic physician. Meanwhile, less severe types can be handled with some of the suggestions mentioned.