How to Prevent Common Running Injuries

Cheers to Ralph from MYRun.com for this informative and engaging article. - Tony

Running is no different from other sports.

There can be injuries from over-training, poor technique, or poor equipment. Any injury can compromise your program, that’s why you want to avoid injuries in the first place.

The key to avoiding injury is to be patient with yourself. There might be days when you feel like you can run for hours, but if you have only been training for two weeks, it probably wouldn’t be wise to run that length of time. When you feel ready, run your training program with gusto and bask in the accomplishment. However, doing too much too fast is a no-no. What happens when you run beyond your training?

Injuries To Know About

Runner’s Knee

The medical name for runner’s knee is patello-femoral syndrome. When you run, you may notice that your knees are giving you a bit of trouble. Almost every runner has a complaint or two about their knees at some point. The best thing to do right away is to find the source of the pain. There can be several reasons for knee pain during running:

  • Improper shoes
  • A hard surface
  • An uneven surface
  • Weakness in the knee area
  • No rest days

When you begin running you will be using muscles that you never knew you had. Or, if you knew you had them, you didn’t think they could make such a difference in how you felt. Some normal muscle soreness will occur, but serious pain, or unrelenting pain, is not normal. Swelling, tenderness, or any unusual pain should be considered serious enough to stop running and consult your doctor.
I actually had this for a while and it took at least 3 months to recover and get back into my old form. It is easy to diagnose and cure, the downside is that it takes a long time and a lot of stretching and physiotherapy to get yourself sorted and continue running.

Plantar Fasciitis

Do your feet hurt when you run? Plantar fasciitis is caused by an inflammation of the fascia layer of connective tissue on the bottom of your feet, mainly the heels. When you run you may feel pain in the arches of your feet.

The inflamed fascia tightens up overnight so it is quite painful to walk and stretch your feet when you get up. That is a problem since your feet are bearing the brunt of the weight with each step you take as you run or during daily activity. Again, stop running when this occurs and consult your physician for the best method of treatment or therapy.

Shin Splints

Running, or even fast walking, can bring on shin splints. Your shins are the lower front part of your legs between your feet and your knees. When you start running, you may begin to feel a tightening or even a somewhat sharp pain in the front of your lower leg.   Shin splints is often related to inadequate stretching of the shins and calves, over-training, a very hard surface, and starting off too fast. The pain associated with shin splints is often caused by over-exertion; stress your muscles are not ready for.

Shin splints are often preventable with adequate (and proper) stretching and warming up. However, I stress the word “proper” stretching. Be sure to ask your running club about stretching techniques that will help alleviate shin splints. All the stretching in the world will not prevent shin splints if you start out too fast or go too far before your muscles are ready. Starting out slowly and not exceeding your physical abilities seem to be the best way to avoid this problem.

This is a common complaint which makes some beginning runners think shin splints are not a real injury. That could not be further from the truth. Shin splints are not a little nuisance to be ignored or “walked off.” The pain we recognize as shin splints can be an indicator of more serious problems like tears in ligaments of the shin, calf, ankle area, and even stress fractures of the lower leg bones. When the muscle strength of the legs is exceeded by over-training, the pain known as shin splints is our warning to slow down and re-examine our running style and equipment.

Blisters

The bane of every runner’s existence. A blister may seem innocuous at first glance, however, if you are a runner, this is one painful injury that is to be feared.

A typical blister is formed by friction caused during the run, producing a fluid-filled sac as the top layers of skin separate from the lower layers. This simple injury can become excruciatingly painful as it gets bigger and bursts or tears. Complications can arise as raw skin is exposed to sweat and germs, causing bleeding and infection. That is why prevention is key.

How are blisters prevented? Properly fitted shoes worn with synthetic-fiber moisture-wicking double-layer socks without seams can help prevent blisters. However, even with all these precautions, some feet are still riddled with hotspots, the precursors to blisters.

Many runners use additional layering methods to prevent or protect blisters. You can start with bandages and progress to using mole-skin and other skin coating methods, including creams and jellies. Some runners even wrap their feet in duct tape. My advice is to try everything, but do so on your short training runs. Make notes about what works and what doesn’t and use your successful blister-busting methods when you find them.

Once you get a blister, the prognoses is disappointing. Recovery often includes avoiding re-injuring the foot, which means not running. However, simple blisters can be treated and covered properly to allow continued running. Be sure to consult your doctor to get the final word on treatment and recovery.

Black Toenail

The injury with this descriptive name is something most runners will get as their running distance increases. Pressure being exerted on the toes as your foot slides slightly forward during your stride can create this condition. Proper room in the toe box of your shoe will help avoid this problem, as will keeping your toenails trimmed to the top of your toe, but not entirely. Even with adequate room, good shoes, and proper socks, this is an injury that continues to frustrate runners as they train, even being a “badge of courage” as a runner increases his or her distance.

What black toenail basically amounts to is an accumulation of fluid around and under the toenail caused by friction or pressure during a run. This fluid can build underneath the toenail and in the tissue around the toenail causing pain. Blood capillaries can break which colors the fluid red causing discoloration.

If the pressure gets great enough, the poor toenail will become separated from the soft tissue-like toenail underneath. That’s when you see the black color, caused by the blood in the fluid. After weeks or sometimes even months, the separated toenail will finally fall off completely. The nail underneath may be somewhat deformed, but that is typically a temporary situation. As the nail grows out it will regain its normal shape and texture.

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