5 common injuries to avoid as you start running season

May 07, 2018 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Running season is here. Many of you have already started pounding the pavement, anxious to finally get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

But before your enthusiasm for the sport boils over, you should take a second to consider your body so you can avoid these five common injuries that overzealous runners tend to suffer. Many of the pitfalls that lead to these ailments are completely avoidable — if you take a few moments to care for your body before and after your runs.

  1. Plantar fasciitis: This pain in the heel is the bane of existence for many a runner. It is an inflammatory condition of a thin, fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Often, the pain presents in the heel, but can also be felt in the arch as well. This is most often a chronic or overuse injury that occurs from too much of a repetitive activity, but it can also present acutely, or suddenly, as in cases of rapid increases of running mileage. Other predisposing factors that can lead to this ailment are tight calf muscles, poor shoe support, and poor running biomechanics (usually due to weak hip musculature). 
    What to do: Rolling your foot over a frozen water bottle and stretching your calf can help relieve some of the pain associated with this condition.

  2. Achilles tendinitis: This condition is very similar in cause to plantar fasciitis. It is another chronic condition that can also present in cases of sudden mileage increases without adequate progression. Again, shoe support, calf flexibility, and running biomechanics play a role in determining a runner’s susceptibility to this injury. The difference between this condition and plantar fasciitis is the structure that is affected. As the name suggests, this condition involves inflammation somewhere along the Achilles tendon (that thick tendon on the back of your ankle). 
    What to do: Rest, ice, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, calf stretching and foam rolling can provide some relief of symptoms of Achilles tendinitis.

  3. Shin splints: Medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome, “shin splints” is basically a catch-all term to describe a number of injuries that mimic each other in cause and treatment, and affect the various soft tissue structures in the same area (inner portion of your shin). These structures include the muscles, tendons, and thin casing around the bone (periosteum). Common causes of this condition are virtually the same as the two aforementioned ailments.
    What to do: Some things you can do on your own to reduce the pain of shin splints include rest, ice, calf stretching/massage, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories.

  4. Stress fractures: This can often be confused or misdiagnosed as shin splints initially. In addition to the shin bone, common sites for stress fractures are the femur (thigh bone), the heel bone, and the metatarsals (the long bones in the foot). These are tiny cracks or breaks in the bone that usually don’t through the entire bone. Like the other conditions, this is an overuse issue that can occur from faulty running mechanics, but other factors, such as inadequate nutrient intake, can cause it as well. For instance, deficiency in calcium and/or vitamin D has been linked to repeated stress fractures. 
    What to do: There are no recommended home remedies for stress fractures, as they often require some form of immobilization and rest from the aggravating activity to properly heal. If you suspect you have a stress fracture, see your doctor before continuing activity.

  5. Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome: This is another overuse condition, but it is the result of the constant flexion and extension (bending and straightening) that occurs at the knee during running. As the knee repeatedly flexes, it creates friction between the femur and the tight IT band. Poor running biomechanics, specifically from weak hip and core muscles, play a major role in the development of this condition. 
    What to do: Rest, ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories are common and effective ways to treat IT band syndrome on your own.

Proper preparation for running can help prevent many of these injuries. Preparation includes ensuring your shoewear provides adequate support, making sure to properly stretch, warm up and cool down, and maintaining an adequate cross training/strength training routine. This cross training routine should include thorough hip and core strengthening to reduce the possibility of improper runner mechanics.

If you have any questions about a strength training routine or proper running mechanics, visit Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness in Naperville and sign up for a Video Gait Analysis, or work with one of our running experts.

Additionally, a well-balanced diet can not only ensure that your body is fueled properly, but will also provide your body with the necessary building blocks to repair any damaged tissues. When you sign up for a Nutrition Orientation at EEHF Naperville, you can get answers to your questions about maintaining a well-balanced diet.

If you think you are suffering from any of the above conditions and self-care doesn’t seem to be working, contact your primary care or sports medicine physician before continuing to run, as running could worsen the injury.

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