3 Common Running Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Running: some love it, while others are more than happy to watch from the sidelines. Whatever your affinity level for this activity, it’s undeniable that running is a great cardio workout. If you’re looking to up your cardio game without investing much besides your time and effort, running is really the way to go. No bike, gym, or fancy equipment required; just lace up a decent pair of tennis shoes and head out your front door!
However, running does carry its own set of injury risks, and nothing hampers enjoying a running rhythm more than undo pain and discomfort from injury. Plus, the most beneficial parts of running come from being able to do it consistently over time. This means that if you want to get the most out of this form of exercise, you need to take care of your body and avoid injury whenever possible.
If you’re getting into running on a more routine basis, you should be extra aware of what could crop up. By understanding the top risks for injury, as well as the preventative measures to take against them, you’ll be able to optimize your running health, and thus, your overall well-being.
In this article, we’ll touch on the most common running injuries to beware of, and give you actionable take-aways that you can implement as a part of your own preventative routine.
Common Running Injuries
Even though running grants many fitness boons, the risk for injury is an ever-present factor that shouldn’t be neglected. If you’re just getting into a running routine or increasing the amount of time you spend running, your risk factor for these injuries is heightened as your body tries to rapidly adjust to the new movement and pounding. Be on the lookout for any signs of these common running injuries, so that you may nip any potential fitness-derailers in the bud!
Plantar fasciitis is an incredibly common pain point for many runners. Your plantar fascia is located on the bottom of your feet and consists of a thick band of tissue that connects from the heel bone into your toes. When you run, this fascia plays the vital role of a hard-working support system in your foot. The band essentially acts as a bow to help absorb shock and provide support to both of your feet throughout dynamic movement.
However, when that band of fascia becomes overworked and has excessive tension and stress placed upon it repeatedly, small tears can start to form. These tears are the irritation that leads to plantar fasciitis and the feeling of stabbing heel pain that accompanies it. Though oftentimes the pain usually subsides with some “warming up” of the foot, it generally returns post-activity, after prolonged periods of sitting and first thing in the morning. If you begin to feel some heel pain and tightness, or even begin to complain about excessively tight arches, you may be best suited to give yourself a couple days of rest from running, as well as apply some ice to the area.
IT Band Syndrome
A cranky IT band can hamper a running routine for even the most seasoned runner.
IT band syndrome starts with the IT band, unsurprisingly. The iliotibial band (IT band) is made up of a bunch of thick fibers that run all the way from your hip to your outer knee and wrap around to attach to the top of your shinbone. A well-warmed up and healthy IT band should cooperate with you just fine through your runs.
However, when this band becomes inflamed from overuse or is too tight, it can translate into swelling and pain in the outer knee, over the attachment area. The area where the IT band crosses over the knee is usually protected by a fluid-filled sac called a bursa, but certain actions can increase your chance of causing inflammation to both the bursa and in turn, the IT band. One of these repetitive actions just so happens to be running. The inflammation from this injury leads to the highly uncomfortable outer knee pain that is known as IT band syndrome.
Ah yes, shin splints. Truth be told, most runners experience some form of shin splints if they stay at it for long enough. Shin splints are a repetitive stress injury that occurs from the overuse and abuse of the connective tissue between your muscles and the shin bone. This injury gives runners pain and discomfort directly along their shin bones. When you can feel that discomfort with each step, it does take a bit of the fun out of running. In particular, runners who get excited about a new running routine and overdo it often struggle with shin splints. In essence, the stress load on the body ends up being too much, too soon.
Though shin splints can oftentimes be kept at bay through rest and icing, if they are ignored and go untreated, the repetitive stress on the shin bone can actually produce a fracture. It goes without saying that it’s better to catch shin splints early before they reach this later stage.
Preventative Approaches for Running Injuries
The best treatment for running injuries is of course preventative care. As you increase your running time and distance, these techniques are meant to help keep your body balanced, and potentially identify any problem areas before they progress to more serious injuries.
Gradually Build Volume
Many new runners make the mistake of getting a little overzealous in their approach to running. Our advice: ramp up gradually! You need to give your muscles, tendons, and tissues time to adapt to the movement and pounding of running. So, if you’re truly a beginner, don’t try to run every day. Break up some of your runs with walks, or even add a hike or two to keep your scenic vantage point interesting. As time goes on, your body will be able to handle more volume. Think of your running progress as a long-game.
Mobility, Mobility, Mobility
When you’re focused on running, you’re generally focused on moving efficiently in one direction: forward. If you continue to only focus on running, this can actually hamper your overall athleticism and ability to ward off injury. Your body needs other movements to stay agile, balanced, and strong.
Try incorporating a lunge matrix to help warm-up your body before you begin your run. It only takes a couple minutes and it will help you feel better during the run, and help to keep your system functioning optimally long-term. These simple movements challenge your body to move in more planes of motion than just forward, and can help to wake up the little muscles and tendons you didn’t even know you used.
Running requires more balance than you may realize, and you need your core to help keep you stabilized. Developing a strong core can help keep your body from pulling in areas that it shouldn’t as you begin to get fatigued during a run. Not much time is required; a few minutes several times per week will likely do the trick.
Chiropractic Care To Support Running
Whether you’re struggling with a running-related injury or simply looking to support your body to compliment your running routine, chiropractic treatment is a safe and natural regime for addressing aches and imbalances. Chiropractic care utilizes gentle adjustments of the spine and extremities to realign your body, decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire system to relax and enable healing to take place. By correcting these misalignments, your body is able to function properly– without pulling or placing added stress in those unbalanced areas that can lead to a running injury.
Additionally, your practitioner may recommend other exercises to perform outside of appointments to expedite your healing process, or improve your running economy for injury-prevention.
Don’t let injury sideline your running routine. Seek care now.
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This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.