Common Running Injuries and Ailments, Prevention, and Treatment (Part 1)

Posted: April 12, 2014 in Recovery, Running, Strengthening and Conditioning
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Running Injuries happen when you push yourself too hard too soon. Your body should have enough time to recover and adapt to training stress. Most runners want to run through the pain which often leads to worse injuries. It is important to be familiar with these running injuries and ailments and know how to prevent them. In this three-part series, I will go through the common running injuries and ailments and show some ways how to treat and prevent those conditions.

Read about the difference between “Chronic” and “Acute” Injury here.

1.) Plantar Fascitis

Plantar Fascitis is a chronic injury to the plantar aspect or the bottom part of the foot. Plantar fascitis occurs when the tendon or the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes gets inflamed. Plantar fascitis is usually caused by tight calf muscles pulling on the heel when running. Also, people with a high arc on their feet are more susceptible to this injury. Although Plantar fascitis is related to stress in the plantar fascia, it can sometimes happen without obvious reasons.

How to treat Plantar Fascitis: When you start feeling pain on your plantar fascia, stop your activity and try to stretch your foot and calf. After your run, you can do trigger point release on your foot by rolling a tennis ball under your foot. Get a foot massage. Rest for at least 48 hours and progressively increase your distance when you run.

How to prevent Plantar Fascitis: Regularly stretch your feet and calves. Make sure that your shoes fit right and are still in good condition. If you have a high arc, wear insoles or arc support. Try to refrain from running uphill.

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2.) Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon or the tissue that connects the back of your heel to your calf muscle. Achilles Tendinitis produces a burning sensation on the area especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the Achilles tendon when you add distance to your runs. Tightness from the calf muscles is also a common culprit to this injury.

How to treat Achilles Tendinitis: Treatment for any running related inflammation is Rest for at least 48 hours and gradual return to running. Upon onset of Achilles tendinitis, you can put ice on your heel or directly on your Achilles tendon for 20 minutes. While recovering from injury, you can regularly put heat on the area for 20 minutes and stretch it. Massage will also help.

How to prevent Achilles Tendinitis: Regularly stretch your calves before and after your runs, and during rest days. Make sure that you are warmed up properly before you run.

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3.) Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprain is a very common acute injury caused by accidentally turning the foot at the ankle joint sideways. The tendon and ligaments of the ankle are overstretched and even torn when the foot twists inwardly.

How to treat Ankle Sprain: Never run through ankle sprains. If you do, more ligaments will get damaged and just worsen the injury. Upon onset of ankle sprain, stop your activity and rest your foot. Put ice on the inflamed area for 20 minutes. Apply elastic bandage around your ankle and foot for compression and help lessen the swelling. Elevate your foot to let the blood flow away from the swollen area. Do not massage sprained ankles. Ankle sprains take up from 3 days to 2 weeks of rest for full recovery depending on the severity of the injury.

How to prevent Ankle Sprains: Do exercises that strengthen your foot and leg muscles. Be aware of your surroundings when you run and try not to run long and fast distances on unfamiliar routes, especially trail roads. If you have a race, go through the race route at least once so that you are familiar with the terrain.

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4.) Stress Fracture

Stress fracture is also a chronic injury that can cause extreme discomfort and pain. Stress fracture is a small crack in the leg bone or foot which occurs when the body works too hard without having enough time for the tissues and bones to repair and recover. It is a chronic injury that may start with minimal pain but gets worse and worse with activity.

How to treat Stress fracture: Rest as soon as you feel extreme pain and discomfort in your legs. Do not run through the pain as the pounding movement from running adds to the injury. Seek help from a medical professional.

How to prevent Stress Fracture: Simply following a well-timed training program will prevent you from developing stress fractures. Make sure that you have enough rest and recovery periods in between training bouts. You can also switch running surfaces once in a while; for example, run on the road today then run on dirt or grass the next day for a softer surface.


5.) Shin Splints

Shin splint is another common running injury that can be felt in the front or inside of the leg along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints occur when you suddenly run longer distances or when you increase the number of days you run in a week too quickly. Note that people with flat feet are more susceptible to develop shin splints.

How to treat Shin Splints: Rest for at least 48 hours, or until symptoms are absent. Stretch your tibialis anterior and massage the area. Gradually return to activity.

How to prevent Shin Splints: Make sure that you are warmed up properly before you run. Most runners usually stretch the back of the legs, the calves, but neglect the muscles at the front of the legs, the tibialis anterior. Include this muscle in your stretching routine. Make sure that your shoes fit well. Include strengthening exercises in your training program like toe-up walks, backpedals, and foot mobilization exercises.

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These are the first five injuries for this series. Next on the list will be Muscle strain, Runner’s knee, IT Band Syndrome, Piriformis Syndrome and Low back pain which I will post next week! The 3rd and last part will be some other ailments and additional tips to prevent running injuries.

Have you experienced any of these conditions before? How did you recover?
Do you find these tips helpful?
What else do you want to know about running injuries and ailments?
Let me know in the comments?

Check out these ebooks for your Kindle and iPad:

Running Injuries: Treatment and Prevention by Jeff Galloway

Runner’s World Complete Book of Women’s Running: The Best Advice to Get Started, Stay Motivated, Lose Weight, Run Injury-Free, Be Safe, and Train for Any Distance

ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running




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