Five Common Running Injuries
In July, I was in so much pain I thought my ankle was broken. This is only the second time in over 20 years of running that I had an injury that prevented me from lacing up and hitting the pavement. And believe me – I tried to get out there! The only other time I had pain so extreme in my foot or leg was six years prior, and at that time I though my foot was broken. Given that first experience, my response to my pain this time around was different.
Six years ago, I immediately went to my general practitioner for a referral to an orthopedist and x-rays. I was convinced my foot was broken. It was not. My pain turned out to be caused by peroneal tendonitis. The peroneal tendons provide stability and help turn the foot out. Tendonitis occurs when there is inflammation due to an increased load or overuse of the tendons. In this situation, I had gone to a local sneaker store and had my gait assessed and sneakers with a specific insole recommended. (Note, I wasn’t having any trouble that led me to have this assessment, I had just never done one and people recommended it.) Within three weeks of those new sneakers, I was completely off my foot, wound up in a brace from the orthopedist for a month and had to slowly ease back into my miles.
Last summer, I was preparing to run a seven mile road race. The distance wasn’t a challenge for me. But, I decided time was. I started a training program which included a lot of sprinting. The pain started just a few days after starting sprints, but I didn’t let up on running or my other workouts. Just two weeks later, I couldn’t even go for a walk – never mind a run. Once again, I thought I must have a fracture, but I refused to go to a doctor because I didn’t want to be told I couldn’t run as I was only a month away from the race! My approach to treatment this time was different, and I sought physical therapy with BodyFit Physical Therapy. Cindy diagnosed me with posterior tibial tendonitis and applied many methods of treatment and healing and kept me active and running throughout my recovery.
I have spoken to other runners who are dealing with their own injuries – plantar fasciitis and iliotibial band syndrome for example, and all of this had me wondering, what are the most common running injuries, causes and treatments? (Neither of my injuries made the most common list!)
Five Common Running Injuries
“Runner’s knee” is a common overuse injury. It has several different causes, but often happens when your kneecap is out of alignment. Over time and repetitive stress, the cartilage behind your kneecap will wear down, causing pain with every day movements like going up and down stairs, squatting, or even sitting with your knee bent for a period of time.
Learn more about Runner's Knee here.
Achilles Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel and commonly occurs after increasing your mileage or the intensity of your running. Achilles tendonitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activities like running up and down the stairs. The pain usually occurs on heel strike or when changing directions.
Learn more about Achilles Tendonitis here.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Your iliotibial band, commonly referred to as your IT band, is a long piece of connective tissue that runs from your outer hip to your knee. This band of tissue helps stabilize your knee when you’re walking or running. IT band syndrome is caused by repetitive friction of the IT band rubbing against your thigh bone. IT band syndrome causes sharp pain on the outer side of your leg, usually just above your knee and may also cause tenderness to the touch.
Learn more about Iliotibial Band Syndrome here.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot injuries. It involves irritation or degeneration of the thick layer of tissue, called fascia, on the bottom of your foot. This layer of tissue acts as a spring when you’re walking or running. Increasing your running volume too quickly can put your fascia under increased stress. Muscle tightness or weaknesses in your calves can also put you at risk of plantar fasciitis. Plantar Fasciitis may cause pain or burning under your heel and midfoot, and may be worse in the morning.
Learn more about Plantar Fasciitis here.
This is pain that happens in the front or inside of the lower leg along the tibia. Shin splints are common after changing your workout, such as pushing distance or increasing the number of days you run.
Learn more about Shin Splints here.
Correct treatment of an acute injury will minimize recovery time. BodyFit Physical Therapy can also help you prevent re-injury by teaching you how to sustain good posture and muscle balance, prescribing you a thorough stretching regime, and providing tips for running equipment selection!