Written by Dr. Jason Garrett
Even with the best preparation, aches and pains are an inevitable result of a new running regimen. As a runner, you don’t want anything to get in the way of your fitness. That’s why being able to identify, prevent, and treat common running injuries is of utmost importance.
In most cases, if pain associated with running subsides with slow easy exercise, you may continue. But if it gets worse, stop the activity, rest and seek the advice of a professional.
Below are some of the most common running injuries, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.
The most common pain associated with jogging is known as runner’s knee, a catch-all term for jogging-related knee pain. One of the most common causes of runner’s knee is excessive pronation, or rolling in and down, of the foot. Arch supports (shoe inserts) prescribed by your podiatrist are the best way to alleviate the problem.
Plantar Fasciitis (Arch Pain)
Arch pain is often caused by frequent stress on the bottom of the foot. Forefoot and rearfoot instability may result in plantar fasciitis. Overtraining may also contribute. Shoes with good midfoot stability may help prevent this common injury. If pain persists, visit a specialist.
Heel spur syndrome, related to plantar fasciitis, occurs after calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs form gradually over many months. Both plantar fasciitis and heel spurs can be avoided by a proper warm-up that includes stretching the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot.
Sometimes referred to as the ball bearings of the foot, the sesamoids are a set of accessory bones found beneath the large first metatarsal bone. Incredible forces are exerted on the sesamoid bones during aerobics, and inflammation and fractures can occur. Proper shoe selection and custom orthotic devices can be useful treatments.
Aside from ankle sprains, shin splints are perhaps the most common injury to the lower body. Shin splints, which painfully appear at the front and inside of the leg, are caused by running on hard surfaces, over striding, muscle imbalance, or overuse. Treatment includes changing running technique or insertion of an orthotic device in the shoe.
Achilles Tendon/Calf Pain
The frequent rising on the toes of an aerobics routine often creates pain and tightness in the large muscles in the back of the legs, which can create pain and tightness in the calf and inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Stretching the calf muscles gently and gradually before and after the workout will typically help alleviate the pain and stiffness.
General Advice for Preventing Running Injuries
Keep in mind, during a 10-mile run, the feet make 15,000 strikes, at a force of three to four time the body’s weight. Thus, it’s critical to take excellent care of your feet and lower body muscles.
The first step is proper footwear. Shoe choice should be determined by foot structure and function, body type, running environment, and running regimen. Whenever possible, go to a specialist running shop. You’ll get a better selection, along with helpful advice. There is no such thing as a “best model”. Every runner is different in the way they run, and different running shoes are suitable for different running styles.
Running shoes can last anything between 300 and 800 miles. Assuming you run 25 miles each week, they should last you about 4 or 5 months. Most runners do not change them often enough!
Additionally, always make sure to warm up before every run. Pre-workout stretching should take 5-10 minutes and be conducted in a stretch/hold/relax pattern without any bouncing or pulling.
Most common running injuries can be easily prevented by a focus on proper form, wearing the right shoes, easing into a more aggressive running routine, taking time for rest and recovery, and consistently incorporating simple stretches into your warm up and cool down routine. Frequent joggers ought to see a podiatrist regularly to check for any potential stress on the lower extremities.
Dr. Jason Garrett, Managing Vice President at Airrosti, a nationwide health care organization specializing in musculoskeletal pain injury treatment, leads and supports the Clinical Development Team and is responsible for the clinical consistency and effectiveness throughout Airrosti’s provider network.