When you start a running program, you likely do so with the goal of improving your physical health. It is, after all, a great way to improve your resting heart rate, shed some extra pounds, and build strong bones. These are only a couple of the numerous physical, emotional, and mental benefits you can receive from running on a regular basis.
Of course, whenever you are active, there is also a certain risk of injury. Now, this doesn’t mean you should avoid exercise and working out! On the contrary, the risk of sustaining any of the common running injuries shouldn’t be enough to keep you away from this outstanding form of exercise. In part, the reason for this is that most foot and ankle running injuries can be treated without the need for surgery. Even better, though, there are measures you can take to prevent injury from happening in the first place.
At Richardson Podiatry Associates, we want you to stay safe when you work out, so here are some common injuries we see and measures you take to prevent them.
The most obvious symptom of plantar fasciitis is waking in the morning with a sharp pain in your heel. The pain will subside during the course of the day unless you are sitting or standing in place for an extended period of time, at which point it will flare up again.
Plantar fasciitis is another of the common running injuries that can be linked to overuse. It is caused by irritation and inflammation due to small tears in the thick band of tissue, your plantar fascia, which runs along the bottom of your foot.
Given that the pain goes away during the course of the day, it is tempting to continue your normal running program. This will not allow the tissue to heal itself properly, however. Consider switching to low-impact exercises like cycling, yoga, or swimming to give your plantar fascia time to heal.
Achilles tendinitis is a slow-healing running injury that can be felt in the back of your lower leg, right above the heel in the Achilles tendon. When you feel sharp pain in that area, the tendon has become inflamed and you may also experience swelling.
Ice can help reduce the swelling and inflammation, and rest will give your body time to start healing the affected tendon. Stretching, orthotics, and highly structured shoes may also be used as short-term solutions for the condition. Strengthening and stretching your calf muscles will help prevent this injury from occurring.
One of the most common running injuries to suffer is a stress fracture. When people think about broken bones, they normally think about ones that happen due to traumatic injury, like from a fall or perhaps a car crash. Stress fractures, though, are tiny breaks that are caused by repetitive stress on a bone.
One of the best ways to prevent stress fractures is to avoid overtraining. Instead of hitting the pavement every day of the week, schedule off days and mix up your workouts. Swimming and bicycling are great low-impact exercises to incorporate into your workout routine and decrease the risk of developing stress fractures.
Blisters can range from annoying inconveniences to painful disturbances to your daily routines. When you have friction that occurs between your skin and either socks or shoes, you may develop these fluid-filled sacs. If a blister is not causing any particular pain, it can be left alone and will eventually go away on its own. When it is a nuisance, it should be treated.
You can prevent blisters from happening in the first place by choosing footwear that fits properly (neither too big nor too small), wearing a double layer of socks, or using petroleum jelly for areas that are prone to them.
Another common injury that runners sustain is shin splints. Shin splints are recognized by an achy pain experienced in the lower leg, particularly along the tibia (your shin bone), when the surrounding muscles sustain small tears. These are more prevalent in runners who have either high arches or flat feet, or have too quickly progressed in frequency or distance of running sessions. It is important to build up your mileage slowly and use a thorough stretching program in order to reduce the risk of injury.
Injury Prevention Tips for Runners
As always, it is much better to take some easy steps beforehand to prevent an injury than have to expend the time and energy healing one. With this in mind, the following will prove to be quite helpful:
- Physical assessment. Experts always say to consult a doctor before beginning a workout program. Let us assess your current condition and ensure that you are safe to proceed.
- Proper equipment. Make sure that you purchase shoes that are intended for running and, even better, ones that work for your specific foot structure and running style.
- The right fit. Buy your footwear in the early evening or at night (when your feet are at the largest). Always try both shoes on to see how they fit. Enlist the help of an employee at a store that specializes in running shoes.
- Limber muscles and tendons. Always warm-up and stretch before your run. Heading out “cold” only increases your risk of injury.
- Smart planning. When you first start, you might benefit from a run/walk mix. Slowly progress your efforts (stick with around 10% improvement per week) until you can run comfortably for the entire time.
Richardson Podiatry Associates want you to be safe and avoid common running injuries, but we are always here for you when you need expert foot and ankle care. Contact our Richardson, TX office by calling (972) 690-5374 or scheduling an appointment online, and get the first-class treatment you’ve come to expect from us.