Running is a sport almost anyone can participate in year-round. However, runners, beginners, and experienced can be prone to running-specific injuries. Here is a list of the eight most common injuries runners experience and how to treat and prevent them.
1. Shin splints
The most common injury experienced by runners are shin splints. Shin splints occur when there is inflammation of the tissues and muscles around the shin, or tibia. This common injury can be caused by overtraining or a sudden increase in running, but it can also be caused by wearing incorrect footwear.
To prevent shin splints, runners spend more time warming up before going on a run. Stretching and gradually increasing running when training can also prevent shin splints from happening.
2. Stress fractures
Sometimes overtraining can lead to stress fractures. Stress fractures can range from tiny, hairline fractures in the bone to major breaks. Most runners tend to get stress fractures in the feet or lower legs.
Ways to prevent stress fractures include training at a healthy pace, taking breaks from running in between runs, and warming up and stretching before running.
3. IT band syndrome
Running includes repetitive movement, which is why Iliotibial (IT) band injuries are common for runners. The IT band is a long band of connective tissue in the thigh that connects the hip to the knee. Injuries in the IT band are associated with knee pain and swelling and can be caused by overtraining, wearing unsupportive shoes, and running downhill.
IT band syndrome is easy to treat. Warming up, stretching, and doing cooldown exercises before and after a run can also prevent injuries to the IT band.
4. Sprianed ankle
Ankle sprains aren’t caused by overtraining like the injuries previously listed. Many runners sprain their ankles by landing wrong on their feet, causing the ligaments in the ankle to stretch or even tear.
Running on uneven surfaces can increase the risk of ankle sprains. Some runners wear ankle braces if they think they have weaker ankles until they build up the strength to take them off.
To prevent ankle sprains, runners stay light on their feet while running on uneven surfaces. Stretching will also strengthen the muscles around the ankle, making it more durable in the face of uneven ground.
5. Runner’s knee
Runner’s knee, or Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, is caused by repetitive movement of the knee, causing stress and pain around the kneecap. Exercises like squatting, jumping, climbing, and even walking can cause runner’s knee.
To prevent runner’s knee, take care of any imbalances in the leg muscles by strength training. Runners can also use special shoe inserts to provide more support for the legs.
6. Achilles tendonitis
Achilles Tendonitis occurs when the band that runs along the back of the foot and ankle becomes tight and swollen. Injuries in the Achilles heel are often caused by overtraining or a sudden increase in running.
To prevent Achilles Tendonitis, stretch and warm up before running, make sure nothing is rubbing against the Achilles heel, and rest when there is pain or swelling in the area.
7. Plantar fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis causes pain at the bottom of the heel of the foot and can be caused by overuse or wearing improper footwear.
Unlike most running injuries, Plantar Fasciitis pain tends to get worse after running, but the pain and swelling usually subside on their own after cutting down on runs and stretching.
8. Hamstring strain
The muscle at the back of the leg, or the hamstring, can be injured if stretched too far. This is a common, painful injury experienced while running that can be as minor as a feeling of soreness or as severe as a tear that requires surgery.
Runners prevent hamstring strain by warming up before running, stretching, and making sure their running form and pace are balanced.