Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Spring is upon us, which means many of us will be heading outdoors to pound the sidewalks with our dusted-off sneakers. But keep in mind that running too much, too quickly can take its toll on your body. Here are common running injuries and how you can avoid them.
Stress fractures develop as a result of cumulative strain on bones. Runners most often have stress fractures in their tibias (shin), metatarsals (feet), or calcaneus (heels). It’s one of the more serious of all running injuries. The cause: Overstrain as well as your choice of sneaker.
Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), runner's knee is the irritation of the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap. Pain typically flares up during or after long runs, after extended periods of sitting, or while descending hills and stairs. The fix: Try taking shorter strides when you run, and make sure you strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee, such as your quads and glutes.
One of the more common foot injuries that runners experience, plantar fasciitis is characterized by small tears or inflammation of the tendons and ligaments that run from your heel to your toes. The bruise-like pain is usually more intense the first thing in the morning. The fix: Beef up your core muscles and stretch and ice your foot. Also, make sure your sneakers fit properly.
Shin splints are small tears in the muscles around your tibia (shin bone), and they cause a dull ache in the shin while running (or sometimes walking). They often plague new runners, or those who pack in too many miles too quickly. They can also occur if you're wearing the wrong type of sneaker. The fix: Rest your leg and ice your shin. Taping the shin with Kinesio Tex tape also can relieve pain and speed healing.
The IT band, or iliotibial band runs along the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee. When you run, your knee flexes and extends, which causes the IT band to rub on the side of the femur. If you increase your mileage too quickly, you may feel irritation in this area. The fix: Strengthen your hip abductors and use a foam roller before and after your run.