Sure the couch is safe, but there’s so much life to live out there in the big, dangerous world. Running, like any physical activity, carries with it some minor risk, but all health benefits easily outweigh the risk of injury. That said, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some runner’s first aid.
Here’s a list of common injuries, how they happen, how to treat them, and, most importantly, how to avoid them.
#1. Runner’s Knee
Do your knees feel unusually sore after a run or intensive workout? Runner Knee stems from load-bearing movements coming down on the knee joint in a flexed position.
Whenever you hit your stride, you impact your bent knee as your front foot makes contact with the running surface. This blunt force can lead to severe pain, especially if you’re not running in the correct form or overdoing on the deep squats and stair climbs.
Remedy Runner’s Knee with more stretching and strength exercise. Stretching out your calves and hamstrings can lower the risk of injury. Strengthen those same muscles by doing more activities such as Clam Shells, Donkey Kicks, Straight Leg Raises.
Tip: When in doubt, ice it and rest it! Most running injuries can sort themselves out with a little TLC. Ice will reduce swelling, and rest will allow the body to heal.
#2. Stress Fractures
Stress Fractures are little, tiny cracks caused by repeated stress and impact often found in the bottom of your feet. These sound a bit worse than they are. Bones do this all the time to repair themselves to strengthen themselves. While stress fractures can be painful, you can avoid them by making sure you make time for recovery. It would be best if you gave your bones time to heal and strengthen before putting more force on them.
Avoid Stress Fractures by changing your exercise routines and regimens gradually over time. Also, try avoiding heavy load-bearing exercise and be sure to rest between intensive periods of activity. Proper, supportive footwear, more calcium in your running diet can also help mitigate the risks.
#3. Plantar Fasciitis
Are you experiencing some crippling heel pain? It could be Plantar Fasciitis (PF). PF is the inflammation or swelling of a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and runs across the bottom of your foot.
PF is the result of age, obesity, and abnormal foot mechanics, and it has been linked to many professionals who spend most of their day on their feet.
You’re going to need to consult a doctor if you believe you may have PF. From there, you will likely need some physical therapy and custom orthotics. Ultimately, you may even need medication, a night brace or splint, or even surgery in severe cases. It’s essential to get it checked as soon as possible. PF only gets more challenging to cure the longer you postpone treatment.
PF is by no means a death sentence for your running career, if you see a doctor. Don’t be stubborn and get yourself checked out.
#4. Shin Splints
Common in athletes, dancers, and soldiers – shin splints refers to pain in the shin caused by inflammation or swelling of the muscles surrounding your shin bones. Shin Splints can manifest as shooting stab or a dull ache. These are caused by overworking yourself and suddenly changing training or workout routines.
Resolve shin splints with plenty of ice and rest. Get ahead of Shin Splints by making sure you have proper footwear with appropriate arch support and try to find a way to lessen the impact on your legs during exercise.
Tip: Many injuries are caused by changing up your exercise intensity too quickly. Take your time and increase your output gradually, or you may be out-of-action in a hurry.
#5. Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles Tendonitis (AT) is another injury caused by overworking a muscle and not allowing enough rest. The Achilles Tendon is the muscle located at the back of the foot above the heel stretching up the rear of your leg. Overworking this muscle can weaken it and raise the risk of a tear or rupture. A torn Achilles is not a fun injury.
Again, keep AT at bay by gradually switching the intensity of workouts and resting between prolonged exertion periods.
#6. Blisters & Chafing
Though overlooked by most people, blisters and chafing have likely ended more exercises than all the other injuries combined. These are any skin irritations – sores, cuts, or rashes – caused by persistent rubbing and pressure.
Properly fitting clothes and shoes made of loose non-abrasive material should do the trick. Also, with blisters, make sure to keep your feet dry and change socks often. Applying various powders, creams, and even vaseline to any trouble spot you’re struggling with will help as well.
Lastly, Clean, dress, and bandage any open wounds and avoid any activity that encourages contact to the affected area.
#7. Strains, Sprains, & Tears
If you’re a runner, you most likely know what a pulled muscle is and how it feels. That is a strain, an extended or torn part of a muscle or tendon, and these vary significantly in severity. Please treat them with loads of ice and rest.
A sprain is a tear of a ligament that attaches a muscle to a joint. These also vary in severity but are often worse than a strain. You will need to keep pressure off the joint, elevate and ice it, and take some time off from activity.
Based on the severity, or the amount of pain you are in, you may have to seek a doctor for treatment with both of these injuries.
Tip: Always warm-up (cool down) and take the time to stretch, before and after, any physical activity! Going from a dead stop straight into strenuous exercise is a recipe for disaster.
One last thing: always listen to your body. If you are in a lot of pain, or you’ve lost mobility, or something isn’t right – go to the doctor!