Common Running Injuries
Let's be honest, no matter how fit we are, every one of us has jogged unsuspectingly into the world of run-induced pain at least once.
Running is a sport of passion. Why else would we torture our bodies with miles of punishment every day? Running injuries are an unfortunate but all too common occurrence. Understanding a running injury is the key to effective treatment. Here you will find a list of the most common injuries and advice on types of treatment. Of course, if an injury persists or becomes worse you should always see your GP or Physiotherapist.
Pain and tightness felt in the lower calf muscles, which may be more prevalent in the morning.
Contributing Factors: Constant hill running, shoes with soft heel counters, shifting from high heel shoes to running shoes.
First Aid: Ice massage, calf stretches, relative rest, modifying activities to pain tolerance. Heel pads as needed.
Pain felt around the big toe in conjunction with a noticeable lump. The big toe may project towards the other toes at an abnormal angle.
Contributing Factors: Hereditary predisposition, wearing shoes that are too tight across the ball of the foot.
First Aid: Wear a shoe with a wider toe box. If area becomes red and warm, consult a your GP or Physiotherapist.
Illiotibial Band Syndrome (ITB)
Pain felt on the outside of the knee or upper leg, often associated with track running or roads with a pronounced camber.
Contributing Factors: Weak pelvic and buttock muscles, decreased foot arch, inflexibility.
First Aid: Ice massage, specific ITB stretching, varying walking and running routes.
Pain felt along the bottom of the foot that may extend from the heel to the arch. Pain is often worse during the first few steps in the morning and towards the end of the day.
Contributing Factors: Prolonged standing, being overweight, leg length discrepancy, unsupportive shoes, calf and achilles tightness.
First Aid: Arch supports, night splints and consistent stretching. Early recognition and treatment is key.
Pain near and around the tibia (shin bone) that often occurs when increasing mileage or beginning a training program. Failure to address this condition can lead to stress fractures.
Contributing Factors: Exercising too much, too soon, too fast. Calf and achilles tightness, unsupportive and worn out shoes.
First Aid: Ice massage, stretching, supporting shoes and softer surface runs (grass, trails)
The Benefits of Stretching
Stretching before and after exercise is one of the easiest habits to form, and one of the most neglected. Why is it worth your time to stretch? Because it can prevent injuries, increase flexibility, and ensure a more comfortable run. Runners should warm up for five to ten minutes before they start stretching. Once the muscles are warm, they loosen up, allowing for safer and deeper stretches. Try these dynamic (moving) gentle stretches before your next workout:
- Swing your arms up and down and across the body.
- Twist at the waist to warm up and stretch the core.
- Bend forward at the waist to touch your toes; then bend backward to reach your heels.
- Rotate your hips clockwise and then again counter clockwise.
- Hold onto a post or wall to keep your balance, and swing your leg back and forth. Be sure to switch sides to get both legs.
Once you finish a run or workout, do some of the following static (stationary) stretches to relax the muscles you just exercised:
- Pull each arm across the front of your body.
- Standing with your legs together, bend at the waist and touch your toes.
- Standing with your legs spread wide apart, bend at the waist and touch your toes.
- Lean into side lunges.
- Place the sole of your shoe against a wall and lean into it to stretch your calves.
Listen to your body when you stretch, and don’t over do it. You should be able to feel the sensation of your muscles pulling and then relaxing, but it shouldn’t be painful. Over stretching can lead to injury, such as muscle tearing or pulling. Not stretching enough, however, can do the same thing.
- Andrew Gordon