Running comes with a long list of potential injuries but here’s what you can do about them
By Nicole Ganglani | Photo by Matthew LeJune/Unsplash
Injuries are unavoidable, especially when it comes to running because it’s a high-impact sport. If you’re a new runner, there’s a big chance for injuries to eventually set in since your body isn’t used to the repetitive motion. John M. Vasudevan, M.D., an expert in clinical physical medicine and rehabilitation tells Self that running comes with a long list of potential injuries particularly in the lower limbs. But the good news is that there are ways to treat and avoid them. Here’s what every runner must know when dealing with these injuries.
Runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome is when you experience pain underneath the kneecap when “the thigh bone loses its stability and moves underneath the kneecap,” says Reed Ferber, Ph.D, a University of Calgary researcher and director of the Running Injury Clinic. This usually happens when running uphill, walking down the stairs or when moving from a sitting position to a walking position.
How to treat it: As soon as you feel the pain in your knee, stop running. Runners have the tendency to run through the pain, which is not ideal since this can progress to a more severe injury. Usually, runner’s knee gets better on its own with time and treatment. To limit inflammation and recover faster, ice your knee consistently, stretch your quads, wrap your knee using elastic bandage and patellar straps, elevate your leg on a pillow when you lie down or take painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen when needed.
The Achilles tendon injury is one of, if not, the deadliest injuries in any sport. Anything that involves the Achilles tendon should not be taken lightly. Pain in the Achilles tendon (the tendon below the calf) is caused by a weakness or tightness in the calves, glutes or hamstrings. When your calf muscles or glutes fail you, chances are, your tendons will be highly affected.
How to treat it: If the Achilles injury is not too severe, rest from high-impact activity until the pain resolves. Another option is to ice the affected area consistently and perform stretches like heel drops since this can strengthen your calf muscles. Meanwhile, an Achilles tear normally requires surgery so it’s best to seek medical attention once this happens to you.
Stress fractures happen when your bones don’t repair themselves after experiencing repetitive stress during running. It’s common for those who change their running routine, add more miles, conquer a different terrain or increase the intensity of their training. For runners, this often affects the foot.
How to treat it: When you experience a stress fracture, you’ll most likely be unable to run for three to six weeks (depending on the severity). While you’re sidelined due to this injury, you have to strengthen your glutes and core to help your biomechanics when running. Once you’ve fully recovered, make sure that you gradually get back to your routine and eat the right food.
Plantar fasciitis is a common foot injury due to the inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue. It happens when the fibrous tissue runs from the heel to the arch of the foot and inserts all the way to the balls of the foot.
How to treat it: To avoid worsening your injury, avoid running. Make sure to stretch and roll consistently with a stiff ball and utilize good arch support (an orthotic will do) to take the stress off. Focus on strengthening your hips and core.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
The iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) happens when a long band of tissue outside the hip goes onto the outer part of the knee. The ITBS goes from the front of the knee to the back of the knee, which causes severe irritation and pain.
How to treat it: Like treating the Achilles tendon and plantar fasciitis, you must limit your running mileage intensity. Don’t stress your knee by opting to run on softer surfaces and avoid downhill runs. It’s also important to remember that pain medication, stretching (clamshell exercises and foam rolling) should be done consistently to treat ITBS.