People who run for exercise will eventually deal with some type of common knee injury. It’s estimated that 60% of recreational and competitive runners ultimately have an injury that requires weeks or months of rest.
Which running injuries happen most?
1. Runner’s Knee
Many people who run on their own or try to lower their running times get runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral syndrome. It’s a common injury in sports caused by a lot of running or jumping.
Runner’s knee is often caused by weakness in the muscles and hips. The pain can be in either or both knees and can range from mild to extremely painful. The condition usually gets worse when you sit or exercise for extended times.
Runner’s knee also can happen if you climb stairs, squat, or jump.
If you have persistent knee pain, it’s smart to have your doctor take a look. They will probably do an X-ray to check for any other issues. The good news is that rest and anti-inflammatory medication usually help this condition.
2. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be the scourge of many exercise lovers.
The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of your foot, from the arch to the heel. It’s usually most uncomfortable when you’re stiff in the morning or sitting for hours.
Some runners have pain on the bottom of the foot at the beginning of the run, and it fades as they warm up. Others may have discomfort for the entire run.
This condition may be caused by old shoes, running incorrectly, tight leg muscles, and having feet with a high arch or flat arch.
With this condition, it’s essential to be fitted with the correct running shoes.
You can treat the problem by cutting your mileage for a few weeks, stretching the legs before each run, and using anti-inflammatory medication.
3. Shin Splints
This injury also is known as medial tibial stress syndrome. It’s a pain that runs down the front of the shins. About 15% of all running injuries are shin splints.
It might seem like a minor injury, but there are small tears in the tissue over the shin, and the injury can get more serious without rest and treatment.
4. Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The IT band runs on the outside of the thigh, connecting the hip, knee, and shin. When there is irritation in the IT band, you will have pain on the outside of the leg and down to the knee.
Many runners mistake this pain for a knee injury. You can treat it yourself with rest, ice, and an anti-inflammatory, such as Advil. You probably should cut back significantly on your miles so it can heal.
5. Stress Facture
If you run enough miles on hard surfaces, there is a higher risk of stress fractures in the feet and legs. Unfortunately, a stress fracture is a serious running injury. A stress fracture differs from an acute fracture because it occurs over time.
Stress fractures can sometimes be prevented by using excellent running shoes and running on soft surfaces.
6. Achille’s Heel
This condition is called Achilles tendinitis and means the tendon that connects the calf to the heel is inflamed. Runners often get it if they’re running harder or doing more miles.
If it isn’t treated, tendinitis in the heel can make it more likely to rupture, which is a severe injury. When the tendon tears, you probably need surgery.
You could have Achilles tendonitis if you have these symptoms:
- Noticeable pain in the lower calf, just above the heel
- Achilles tendon swelling
- Difficulty rotating the foot without tendon pain
7. Hamstring Injuries
The hamstring comprises most of the muscles on the back of the legs. This large muscle group moves the body forward as you run. If you injure a hamstring, it could be caused by a lack of flexibility or strength.
Make sure you do leg exercises at the gym to build strength in the hamstrings, such as light squats and deadlifts. And carefully stretch the hamstrings before each run. A light warmup also helps to stretch the leg muscles.
Unfortunately, once you’ve strained a hamstring, it can take weeks or months to heal.
The Best Way To Prevent Running Injuries
If you run enough, there’s a decent chance you will eventually have an injury. Most people recover and get back in the routine, but it’s best to prevent injuries if you can. How?
The most critical factor in preventing running injuries is to choose excellent running shoes. You should spend money on good shoes and remember that you get what you pay for.
Good running shoes usually cost between $75 and $150. While this is quite a bit, an injury can be much more expensive and difficult to deal with.
Find the best pair of running shoes by going to a running store to get fitted. Most employees at these stores run a lot and know how to analyze your gait and shoe wear. As a result, they can fit you with a good pair that will keep you injury-free.
Also, while runners love to run every day, it is definitely better for your health and training to take at least two days off per week. On those days off, go for a walk or swim. And at least once a week, take a day off with no vigorous activity at all.
Another way to prevent injury is to not do too much if you are out of shape. It’s critical to ease your way into running if you haven’t done it for a long time. The last thing you want to do is get a serious injury that sidelines you for months. Getting in shape takes time, but you will get there.
Running is a fantastic way to improve your health, but remember to vary your routine, take a rest day or two per week, and put on great running shoes. With these tips, you should be able to avoid most running injuries.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!