Millions of Americans run to lose weight, stay in shape, improve cardiovascular health, and strengthen muscles, bones and joints. Running can also improve mood and energy levels while decreasing stress and reducing symptoms of depression.
However, as any runner will tell you, this form of physical activity can increase their risk of injury. In fact, many runners will experience some sort of an injury every year: mostly overuse injuries as opposed to traumatic injuries.
Factors such as their anatomical structure, how they move, their running stride, and overtraining or training incorrectly may lead them to suffering a running injury.
Common Running Injuries
Repetitive foot strikes on the ground can take a toll on a runner’s body—specifically their muscles, joints, and tissues, causing injuries such as:
- Runner’s knee (an overuse injury that causes pain in and around the kneecap)
- Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain and/or arch pain caused by painful inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue on the sole of the foot)
- Achilles Tendinitis (pain and, inflammation in this tendon located at the back of the ankle
- Pulled Hamstring (excessive stretching or tearing of the hamstring muscle fibers and surrounding tissues)
- Stress Fractures (small cracks in bones caused by constant, repetitive motion and stress)
- Shin Splints (severe pain in the front or inside of the tibia bone (shin) in the lower leg)
- Ankle Sprain (excessive stretching or tearing of ligaments that bind and support the ankle)
How to Avoid Running Injuries
Being proactive and methodical about training and safety can help decrease the risk of a running injury:
- Warm up properly by stretching and jogging easily before running
- Cross train with low impact workouts such as swimming or cycling to rest your joints in between running days
- Work with a coach to perfect your technique to reduce stress placed on joints and muscles
- Gradually increase your running regimin: don’t increase running volume more than 10% each week
- Know the difference between discomfort while exerting yourself and pain due to an injury
- Train on softer surfaces such as rubber tracks, grass, sand, etc., which are easier on joints than pavement
The best prevention tip is to consult with your podiatrist. They can examine you to spot any overuse injury in the making, and offer professional advice on footwear, and how to best to keep your feet and legs healthy.