Running is a great way to stay in shape. But it can take a toll on your muscles and joints. To avoid running injuries, it’s important to take precautions before you set out.
Most running injuries happen when you push yourself too hard. Adding distance or speed to your running routine, running up hills, and interval training are just some of the reasons running injuries occur. Body mechanics — the way your body is designed — also play a role. The hips, knees, legs, and feet are the most vulnerable to injury.
Type of Injury: Overuse injury
Causes: Several. But it’s commonly due to the kneecap being out of alignment.
What to Look Out For: Vigorous activity leads to pain around the kneecap, particularly when:
- going up or down stairs
- sitting with the knee bent for a long time
Causes: This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. It typically affects runners in the shin and feet. Often due to going too hard before your body gets used to a new activity.
What to Look Out For: Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest. Rest is important, as continued stress on the bone can lead to more serious injury.
Causes: Commonly occur after a change in activity, such as running longer distances or increasing the number of days you run too quickly.
What to Look Out For: A pain that occurs in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia). People with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.
Causes: This is inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
What to Look Out For: Achilles tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon, often due to increasing running distance too quickly. Tight calf muscles may also play a part.
Causes: A small tear in your muscle, also called a muscle strain, often caused by overstretching of a muscle.
What to Look Out For: If you suffer a pulled muscle, you may feel a popping sensation when the muscle tears.
Muscle pull commonly affects these muscles:
Causes: This is the stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle. It often occurs when the foot twists or rolls inward.
What to Look Out For: Pain in & around the ankle.
An inflammation of the plantar fascia. That’s the thick band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes. People with tight calf muscles and a high arch are more prone to plantar fasciitis. Although it may be linked to an increase in activity, plantar fasciitis may occur without any identifiable reason.
What to Look Out For: Pain in the arches in weight bearing activities.
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)
The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee.
Causes: ITBS occurs when this ligament thickens and rubs the knee bone, causing inflammation. Long-distance runners are more likely to develop ITBS.
What to Look Out For: This syndrome causes pain on the outside of the knee.
Causes: These are fluid-filled sacks on the surface of the skin. They are caused by friction between your shoes/socks and skin.
What You Can Do: To help prevent blisters:
- start using new shoes gradually
- wear socks with a double layer
- apply petroleum jelly on areas prone to blisters
- heat exhaustion
These can be prevented by dressing appropriately, staying hydrated, and using sunscreen.