Running is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, running regularly can lead to injuries. In fact, 80 percent of runners experience some sort of injury each year. Most of the injuries below are caused from overworking and overusing. Even though they are a common occurrence, these injuries can be preventable and avoidable.
Also called heel tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of an Achilles tendon. Aching, swelling, and even burning are common symptoms. Pain usually occurs during or after running or working out. A common cause of Achilles tendinitis is when a runner stops running all together for a long period of time, and then tries to pick up right where they left off.
Spraining an ankle can be one of the most painful experiences in the fitness and active world. Graded on a three-level scale, an ankle sprain occurs when the ankle itself is turned, rolled, or twisted inward or outward from its usual position. In an ankle sprain, the tendons are themselves are strained, stretched, or torn beyond their limits therefore causing pain.
Iliotibial-band syndrome is pain that is caused by overuse. It’s caused when connective tissue rubs against the thighbone, causing discomfort between the knee and hip, although in some cases can occur below the knee as well. Swelling can be a symptom of iliotibial-band syndrome, but discomfort is the primary symptom.
Inflammation in the bottom of your heel or the arch of your foot is the cause of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis can be extremely painful, and typically the pain is worse in the morning. The pain is often described as “feeling like a bruise or an ache.” The pain, however, can subside and gradually go away once you begin walking around.
Much like spraining an ankle, straining a muscle occurs when the muscles are strained, stretched, or torn beyond their limits. Common places for muscles strains are the lower back, hamstrings, neck, and calf. Those who experienced strained muscles typically experience muscle spasms and limited movement.
Runner’s knee is medically known as chondromalacia patellae. The pain from runner’s knee usually occurs in the front of your kneecap although in some cases it can be around or behind your kneecap. Swelling, popping, or grinding are feelings that can occur in your knee, while bending, walking, squatting, and kneeling often causes the pain to increase. Walking up or down stairs can also cause the pain to flare up.
One of the most common running-related injuries, shin splints occur along the shinbone in the lower part of your leg. Micro-tears in muscles, tendons, and bone tissue are what cause the pain related to shin splints. Although not detrimental, if shin splints aren’t adequately rested and taken care during ongoing running or training, shin splints could turn into a stress fracture.
Preventing These Injuries
Luckily all of the injuries listed above are preventable and, if they do occur, treatable and manageable.
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
This is the most important tip for preventing injuries. Stretching your muscles will have them prepared for your run. Stretching will have your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy give your joints the proper range of motion. Even on your off days when you aren’t running, it’s still important to stretch.
Warm Up and Cool Down
A common mistake made among beginning runners is they don’t warm up or cool down. Warming up will get your cardiovascular system going and prepare it for the upcoming workout. Cooling down after your run or workout will allow your body to gradually decrease back to its resting rate, instead of slamming on the brakes so to speak.
Increase your distances incrementally to avoid injury. Step up slowly from one run to the next and make large changes over a number of runs on different days. For example, don’t run two miles one day and try to run 15 the next. Or, if you want to increase your weekly mileage add one mile on per day instead of all five on one day. Remember, most injuries are caused by overworking and overusing.