Wanna know a secret that nobody seems to tell you about running – chances are that you’re going to get injured at some point in your running career.
Estimates claim that each year 80% of runners pick up an injury that prevents them running for a period of time.
While running can do your body so much good, unlike swimming or cycling, running is a sport that puts a lot of stress on your bones, joints and muscles.
Injuries can strike at any time but they’re most likely when increasing volume or intensity – especially for newbie runners.
Today we’re going to take at some of the most common running injuries.
8 Most Common Running Injuries
1. Runner’s knee
Runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome to use it’s Sunday name is so common within the running community that Doctor decided to nickname it to Runner’s knee… and the name stuck.
Runners knee is a pain that you’ll usually experience around or behind the kneecap and is caused by the constant impact of striking the ground. The problem is often exacerbated by weak hips, downhills and muscle imbalances.
To treat the condition it’s advised that you cut back on the mileage, take anti inflammatories and tape your knee when you run.
2. Achilles tendinitis
Your Achilles is the tissue that connects your lower leg muscles to your heel and the inflammation and swelling can be any number of things. While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of Achilles tendinitis some of the more common causes include:
- quickly increasing your mileage
- tight calf muscles
- flat feet
The best methods to tread Achilles tendinitis are to take anti-inflammatories, stretch and use a foam roller after training and wear supportive running shoes. Runners who experience Achilles tendinitis should stick to the flat as running up-hill tends to increase the stress put on the Achilles.
3. Plantar fasciitis
Unfortunately Plantar fasciitis is one of those running injuries that can really put an end to your training plans. The condition is caused by an inflammation, irritation or tearing of the soft tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. It’s extremely painful (trust me, I’m speaking from experience here) and feels like a stabbing in the arch of your foot.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by one of two things – too much running or poor footwear. Personally, I found that it was poor footwear to cause me to develop the condition (and subsequently write our guide to the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis).
The treatments for the condition range from resting, stretching rolling and proper shoes right through to night splints, steroid shots and custom orthotics.
4. Shin splints
No list of common running injuries would be complete without featuring shin splints. Picking up a shin splint injury is almost like runners right of passage and research is still pretty vague about the exact cause of the condition.
Shin splints are caused when the tibia muscle in the shin becomes inflamed. While it’s not a prevention method, the best treatment is to ice your shins for 20 minutes and keep your legs elevated to help reduce te swelling.
Prevention is difficult but runners who are recovering from a bout of shin splints are best to stick to softer trails, invest in more cushioned shoes and ensure that they are running in the right shoes for their foot.
5. Iliotibial band syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome is typically experienced by high mileage runners or those with weak hips. The condition itself is experienced as a pain on the outside of the knee caused by the inflammation of the Iliotibial band which is a thick tendon that runs from the pelvic bone to your knee.
To help deal with the ache, you should look to stretch, roll and take anti-inflammatories which will help reduce the pain.
6. Stress fracture
It’s not just contact sports that can result in bone fractures. A stress fracture is a micro break in the bone caused by constant impact through the legs.
The condition is reasonably serious and isn’t one that can be cured by putting your feet up and resting. Treatment means physiotherapy, crutches and even surgery. To avoid stress fractures, you should ensure that your running shoes are right for you, cross train and even supplement your diet with calcium.
7. Patellar tendinitis
Patellar tendinitis as you might have guessed affects the patellar tendon – the tendon that connects the kneecap to the shinbone and is caused when this tendon develops tiny tears and isn’t given enough time to heal. Patellar tendinitis is commonly found in distance runners and overpronators.
Recovery by icing your knee and look to prevent the condition from coming back by using gym work to strengthen your quads and hamstrings.
8. Ankle sprain
If you run then you’ll run the risk of an ankle sprain. It’s just one of those conditions that can randomly occur. Curbs, tree roots, uneven ground and even just planting your foot wrong can all cause you to sprain your ankle. While there’s little that you can do to prevent the condition, a proper recovery plan in the secret to getting back on your feet.
Rest, take anti-inflammatories and not increasing your mileage too quickly will all help you recover faster.
Too Much Impact – The Runners Curse
As you can see, the majority of injuries above are caused by too much impact on your leg muscles. Sadly for most of us, if we’re serious about our running there’s little we can do besides training smart and not increasing our mileage too quickly.
If you spend your Monday to Friday runs pounding on the pavement then an idea is to head offroad at a weekend – your muscles will thank you for the softer surface while the undulating ground will help strengthen everything from your ankles to your core.