Running has never been hipper as today. It seems like everyone is trying to get into shape again and running is the preferred form of exercise to achieve this. This makes sense since running is cheap and (relatively) easy, we’ve all been sort of doing it all our lives, right. Unfortunately, many people who start running don’t really have a clue about proper running technique.
This results in a lot of injuries from people with bad technique or improper form while running, or people who just overdo it, trying to run half a marathon during their first run when they haven’t worked out for years. Below are some of the most common injuries that runners cope with and some tips about how to avoid them.
Probably the most common injury among runners is runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS). This injury involves the experience of pain under or around the kneecap. Too much downhill running, inflexible or weak hips and imbalanced muscles can all put excessive strain on the kneecap, causing runner’s knee. In most cases you can keep training when you have runner’s knee, as long as you take it easy.
It is best to run only on flat or uphill terrain if you experience runner’s knee. Decrease the lengths of your runs and the mileage you do each week until your symptoms disappear. Sometimes a knee brace or taping the knee may also help treat the pain. Anti-inflammatory painkillers may be necessary as well to treat the inflammation of the tendons under the kneecap.
This condition is typified by having a swollen and painful Achilles tendon (which connects the heel and the muscles on the lower back of your leg). This can occur for several reasons, such as racking up too much mileage too soon, not wearing the right footwear, tight calf muscles or a bad running gait. Make sure to always warm up before your run, stretch your calfs afterwards and wear proper running shoes (get your feet measured and gait assessed at a specialty store). When you suffer from achilles tendinitis, avoid uphill running, stretch a lot, take anti-inflammatory painkillers and ease up on the running.
Just about every runner will suffer from shin splints at some point. Shin splints are typified by a strange aching sensation in the shins caused by an inflammation of the tendons and/or muscles that cover the shinbone. Icing for about 20 minutes and keeping your legs elevated at night can help reduce any swelling. Getting rid of or preventing shin splints is tricky, but changing up footwear has provided the solution for some runners.
Irritation, tearing or inflammation of the tissue on the underside of your foot (called plantar fascia) is the cause of this runner’s condition that leads to a stabbing pain or stiffness around the foot’s arch. Improper running footwear and overtraining or running too much on hard surfaces can cause plantar fasciitis. Make sure you wear the right shoes when running and run more on softer surfaces. Massaging the painful area with a golf ball can help ease the pain.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Matthew T. Boes, MD Orthopaedic Surgery, a Raleigh surgery clinic. Zane is glad he doesn’t run very often.