Running Injury Prevention

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For a good chunk of the population, running isn’t just a thing you do—it’s a way of life! Trust us, we understand—our own Dr. Ratchford is always training for the next 5k or half marathon!

There are a prodigious array of benefits to the running lifestyle—cardiovascular health, weight loss, better mood, better sleep, sharper mental focus … the list goes on. Unfortunately, many avid runners also frequently deal with pain and injury that temporarily keep them from doing what they love.

Nothing is more frustrating to a runner than not being able to run! However, if you want to avoid long-term problems, you can’t just ignore injuries. Below, you’ll find some information about running injuries and how to avoid them.

Common Running Injuries

In most cases, running injuries are the result of overuse. You go out for runs regularly, don’t give yourself enough rest time, and over time your feet gradually lose their ability to withstand and recover from the stress. Common injuries experienced by runners include:

  • Plantar fasciitisIt’s the most common form of heel pain, caused by inflammation or tearing in connective tissues on the bottom of your foot. Sharp pain on the underside of the heel during the first steps of the day is the most frequent symptom.
  • Stress fractures. When soft tissues lose their ability to absorb shocks efficiently, forces transfer directly to bones. Over time, this can cause hairline cracks to form in the bone.
  • Achilles tendinitis. This refers to pain, swelling, or degeneration in the Achilles tendon, also known as the “heel cord” in the back of your leg. For runners, it’s most likely to occur if you suddenly ramp up your mileage or intensity in a short period of time, rather than gradually.
  • Shin splints. This is a bit of a catch-all term that can refer to pain and stress surrounding the tibia, or shinbone. Muscles, connective tissues, or even the bone may be affected.
  • Ankle sprainsUnlike the other items on this list, sprains aren’t usually an overuse injury, but sudden ligament tears after an awkward stumble.

Protecting Yourself from Injury

While there’s no way to guarantee an injury-free run, you can establish healthy habits that significantly reduce your risk.

  • Wear the right shoes. Get yourself a good pair of running shoes from a quality specialty store, and replace them before they wear down—typically within a few hundred miles.
  • Warm up, stretch, and cool down. Going from 0 to 60 without preparing your body first is a recipe for injury. You should also be stretching daily, even if you won’t be running that day.
  • Add mileage slowly and deliberately. If you’re brand new, start slow with a mix of walking and running. As you progress, increase the intensity or mileage by no more than 10% per week.
  • Choose routes wisely. If you’re struggling with pain, try running on softer surfaces (like grass or dirt) or with fewer elevation changes.
  • Cross train in high and low impact exercise. Running every day is a great way to wear down your feet, so take rest days and cross-train with some less foot-intense workouts. The most important of these is strength training, which helps reduce muscle fatigue and prevents injury. However, we also recommend low-impact cardio, such as swimming or cycling.
  • Stay hydrated. Water is important! At minimum, you should be thinking of 8 oz per 20 minutes of exercise.
  • Listen to your body. Exercise shouldn’t be “easy,” but it should never be out-and-out painful. Pushing yourself past the breaking point is how most serious injuries happen.

Treating Running Injuries Quickly and Effectively

Of course, we hope you don’t hurt yourself in the first place! But, if you do get injured as a result of running, the best choice is to seek help right away from our team. We understand how important running is to you, and will pursue treatment options that will help you get better and back on your feet as quickly as possible. In the long run, this will save you a lot of time and pain and will help you run harder, stronger, and longer.

We pride ourselves on individualized care for each patient, with a focus on keeping you active! Depending on your personal goals and the specifics of your injury, we’ll help you put together a treatment plan that we think will work best for you. This might include measures such as physical therapy and custom orthotics, or even more advanced measures, such as shock wave therapy.

To make an appointment with the foot care specialists (and running enthusiasts!) at Premier Podiatry Group in Ebensburg, PA, please call (814) 472-2660 today. You may also request an appointment online using our contact form.