Last few months my favorite hobby was running. And when you become a dedicated runner, injury starts to look like something a lot more serious than an inconvenience. A serious injury could lay waste to weeks, months, or even years of dedicated training time. Don’t get paranoid about taking a fall on icy ground, turning your ankle accidentally, or suffering a repetitive stress injury! Protect yourself – and your peace of mind – by learning more about common running injuries and how you can avoid them.
The Harvard Gazette says that in any given year, somewhere between 30 and 80 percent of the individuals who run regularly will experience an injury. A more precise number was generated by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; the Academy pegs the injury rate at almost 70 percent. Think about what these figures mean. Roughly three-quarters of all runners, or nearly seven out of 10 of them, will suffer an injury each year. If you’re a dedicated runner, your chances of getting injured sooner or later are quite high.
The injuries that runners most often face are the ones caused by repetitive motions and stress, particularly the sort that affect the tendons and joints. Here’s a representative sampling.
* Runner’s Knee
Runners often experience pain near or under the kneecap. The sensations are most pronounced when walking downhill, descending stairs, or after lengthy sessions of sitting.
* Iliotibial Band Syndrome
This involves aches and pains affecting the outside of the knee. It’s most commonly experienced midway through a running session or towards its end.
* Achilles Tendonitis
This pain starts as an ache at the rear of the calf or just above the heel. The pain is more pronounced after running.
* Shin Splints
This is the term for generalized pain that’s felt on the front or inner side of the leg below the knee.
* Plantar Fasciitis
This form of foot pain is especially acute when the foot is pressed down to the ground flat when walking or running. Plantar fasciitis usually affects the fleshy portion of the sole of the foot close to the heel.
Running Injuries – The Causes
The causes of common running injuries fall into two broad categories: training volume and structural imbalances. Many injuries stem from multiple sources, and diagnosing their cause is not always easy. Sometimes running injuries appear in a cascade; a foot injury, for example, can cause knee, hip, or back problems if left untreated. It’s always best to talk to trained medical professionals about diagnosing and treating running injuries.
Structural imbalance causes injuries because it involves poor alignments between different parts of the body. It can also lead to injury if certain muscle groups are overstressed because they are compensating for a weak or underutilized muscle group. Some imbalances are caused by physical attributes of the body or posture, like legs which are different lengths or a running gait that involves overpronation of the foot. Running injuries become a virtual certainty with these sorts of problems if they are not found and properly treated.
The body’s ideal response to stress is to adapt to it and become stronger; virtually all forms of physical training make use of this principle. Pushing beyond your body’s limits is not a good idea, though. If your body doesn’t have time to recover properly after the stresses of training, it will become weaker instead of stronger. Sensible scheduling and slow workout progression are vital if you want to avoid injuries due to overuse.
5 Tips For Avoiding Running Injuries
Walking is still the best possible way to get ready for a running workout. If you’re just getting started with running – or returning to the practice after a long absence – start slowly and use a program of regular walks to begin conditioning your muscles. Many different forms of exercise (e.g. rowing, swimming, cycling, etc.) can help prepare your cardiovascular system for running, but walking is the best way to condition the muscles, tendons, and joints.
If you’re incorporating running into a weight loss regimen, bear in mind the limits of your body as it changes. The stress of running multiplies the total weight you’re subjecting your knees to by a factor of four. For example, if you currently weigh 180 pounds, you’re putting 720 pounds of force on your knee every time you bring it down while running.
Follow the instructions of a trained coach or assemble your own sensible plan for training. Easy days should outnumber challenging ones in your training schedule, especially when you’re starting out. Schedule plenty of rest time into your training cycles, and pay attention to any signals your body is sending you.
Make sure you’re using the right shoes. Pick out a pair that is both designed for your running style and comfortable. Replace your shoes once they grow uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to inquire about the return policy at any shoe store before you invest in a new pair of running shoes.
Work actively to prevent injuries. Warm up prior to running, taking at least 10 minutes to do so. Start with dynamic stretching and follow up your running sessions with static stretches. Apply treatment – icing, elevation, rest, etc. – to any potential injury when it feels painful. Accompany your running with some strength training in order to strengthen your core and prevent injuries due to muscular weakness.