If you’re a runner, nothing upsets you more than landing on the dreaded disabled list (DL). Unfortunately, the sport abounds with injuries.
It pays to know how to prevent and treat the most common running injuries. Doing so gets you more time on the track or trail doing what you love. Here are eight issues you might encounter and how to cope.
Do you have a constant dull pain around your patella or kneecap? If so, you may have runner’s knee, perhaps the most frequently seen type of running injury.
Runner’s knee occurs from structural defects or irregularities in your stride. It can happen when you have poor foot support or weak thigh muscles. Tight hamstrings can also tug at this joint.
The wisest way to prevent this injury is through stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee. Yoga poses such as paschimottanasana or seated forward folds can help elongate short hamstrings and ease pressure on this joint.
Similar to runner’s knee, patellar tendonitis, or jumper’s knee, is another frequently seen overuse injury. It occurs when the tendon that connects your kneecap to your shinbone becomes inflamed.
If left untreated, patellar tendonitis can lead to connective tissue tears that take a long time to heal. You could have trouble with everyday activities like climbing stairs, so give yourself rest if you develop this condition.
Your Achilles tendon connects the muscles in your calves to your heels. Like the one that attaches your lower leg muscles to your knee, it can become inflamed with overuse. Rest, ice, compression and elevation — the four components of the RICE formula — make up the treatment strategy.
You might encounter this injury more frequently if you have a lot of hills on your route or you turn your ankles readily. Experiment with shoes with varying degrees of ankle support to find one that works best.
Your fascia is a type of thick connective tissue that holds your muscles together, and like any other body part, it can become inflamed and cause pain. Your plantar fascia supports the arch of your foot, helping you to walk.
If you wear high heels, you might be more prone to developing this condition. Instead, seek out a pair of stylish, close-toed flats to wear for work. You’ll feel more balanced and enjoy your mileage pain-free.
Stress fractures are microscopic cracks in your bones typically caused by overuse. Working out on the wrong surface without proper shoes can also cause these injuries.
Like most common running injuries, the RICE formula is ideal when it comes to treatment. You can prevent stress fractures by ensuring your shoes have adequate cushioning and seeking asphalt over concrete whenever possible.
Consider shin splints to be your body’s SOS system. This condition causes pain in your lower legs, and it can lead to stress fractures if you fail to heed the distress signal.
You can prevent shin splints by stretching after workouts and gradually building your mileage. You might also find some relief from massage, but ultimately, taking it easy and working up to your goal is the best medicine.
Your iliotibial (IT) band is a thick, strong band of tissue that runs down the outside of your thigh from your hip bone to your shin. While anyone can develop IT band syndrome, it is most frequently seen in distance runners.
If you tend to run on uneven surfaces or in worn-down shoes, you increase your risk of developing this painful condition. To decrease your risk, run in both directions if you follow a track or predetermined course. Make sure to replace your shoes regularly — between every 300 to 500 miles depending on factors like stride and weight.
A sprained ankle involves injury to the connective tissue that holds your bones together. When this happens to the ligaments around your ankle, you might find it impossible to walk more than a few steps. You might be more prone to this injury type if you are a trail runner who frequently navigates tricky obstacles.
While you can recover from most sprains with home remedies, severe injuries might require surgery. When in doubt, seek medical care — you don’t want your stint on the disabled list to become permanent.
Runners frequently suffer the eight common injuries above. Wearing the right shoes, stretching after your workout and gradually building up your mileage is the best prevention.