5 Common Running Injuries to Avoid
Whether you’re out on the pavements or in the gym, running is a great cardio activity that burns calories and strengthens your heart and lungs. But it can also take a toll on your body if you’re not careful. Here are the top five common injuries you can avoid on your next run.
Runner’s knee is a general term to describe several painful knee conditions. When you run, the repetitive impact on your knees can irritate the soft tissues or lining of the knee, wear out the cartilage or strain your tendons.
It feels like a dull ache around or behind the kneecap, especially where it meets the lower part of your thighbone.
How to avoid it? Strengthen your thigh muscles with regular exercise. Lean forward and keep your thighs bent when running, if you’re doing down a steep incline, jog or run in a zigzag pattern.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
The IT Band is a ligament that runs on the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, it helps stabilize and move the knee when running. It usually happens from excessive training duration, intensity or frequency, or after a sudden increase in training or change in surface or footwear.
It feels like a sharp pain along the outer knee joint when your knee is bent at a 45-degree angle. Sometimes, you also get a clicking sensation, which is a result of the ITB tightening and snapping across the joint while running.
How to avoid it? Strengthen your hip and butt muscles. Brisk walk 400-800 metres before starting your run. Most importantly, the moment your feel pain on the outside of your knee, reduce your running distance or if possible, take a few days off.
The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone, and helps you every time you walk, run or jump. Tendinitis is simply defined as inflammation of a tendon, and it often happens when we push our bodies to do too much, too soon. Having tight calf muscles and suddenly starting an intense exercise program can also put extra stress on the Achilles tendon.
It feels like an ever-present swelling at the back of your heel that gets worse throughout the day with activity. It is also common to feel pain and swelling along the Achilles tendon in the morning.
How to avoid it? Wear quality supportive shoes that are appropriate to your sport. Maintain an adequate level of training and avoid a dramatic increase in your workout regime.
The hamstrings are tendons at the back of your thighs that attach the large muscle of the thigh to your bone, it is also responsible for propelling your forward when running. A pulled hamstring commonly refers to a strained or torn muscle from running, kicking or even walking down steps.
It feels like a slight pull or ache in the back of your thigh, and onset of the pain may be gradual. A higher grade of pain often occurs after an acute injury, with an immediate sharp pain at the back of your thigh, or higher up toward the buttocks. Walking may also be difficult as extending the knee in every step stretches the injured muscle.
How to avoid it? The best way to prevent hamstring pulls is through flexibility and strengthening exercises. Make it a point to commit a period of warm-up and stretches before your running laps to maximise flexibility.
The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and supports the arch of your foot. It is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet, and repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament, leading to pain and swelling. Plantar fasciitis is most likely to happen if your feet roll inward too much when you walk, you have high arches or flat feet or you walk, stand or run for long periods of time without rest.
It feels like a sharp pain in the bottom of your foot, especially at the front or centre of the heel bone when taking your first steps in the morning. It may hurt the most when you climb stairs or after standing for a long period of time.
How to avoid it? Run on soft surfaces instead of concrete and keep your distance increases to less than 10% per week. It’s important to ensure you’re wearing the proper shoes for your foot type and walking style.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful or prepared you are, injuries do happen. Given time, your body will usually start to heal on its own but if the pain lasts for more than a week or it’s a sudden or severe pain, then it’s time to visit a physiotherapist that’s experienced in dealing with running injuries.