Running is one of the most popular physical activities in the world. It’s a great way to stay in shape, raise your heart rate, and improve your overall health.
But it’s also important to understand that running injuries can sometimes develop and recognizing symptoms of injuries is your first step in getting the care you need!
Now, pain is obviously a good indicator that something may be wrong. However, when it comes to running injuries, we must determine the nature of the pain itself in order to accurately diagnose the injury.
A sharp pain that has a sudden onset is often considered to be acute, for example, and this is often the result of a single incident. On the other hand, a dull pain is more commonly associated with chronic conditions, and these develop due to overuse during physical activities.
So, as you can see, understanding a running injury is the key to effective treatment. And though they are both unfortunate and extremely common, most running injuries are easily treatable—if you get appropriate care right away!
What’s better, our team of experts at McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group has the knowledge and the skills needed to diagnose and treat whatever running injury you may be experiencing so that you can go back to doing the things you love (including running) without pain and discomfort.
Common Orthopedic Running Injuries
Typically, running injuries will happen whenever you push yourself too hard, too quickly. However, other contributing factors, like the way your body moves and the type of shoes you wear while running, can also lead to orthopedic running injuries.
Some of the most common running injuries we treat at our office include:
- Runner’s knee. This often happens when the kneecap is out of alignment. Over time, the cartilage on the kneecap can wear down, and pain around the kneecap may be felt, particularly when going up or down stairs, squatting, or sitting with the knee bent for a long time.
- Stress fracture. This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. It typically affects runners in the shins and feet, and often develops due to working too hard before the body gets used to a new activity. Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest.
- Shin splints. This is pain that happens in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone. Shin splints are common after changing your workout routine, such as running longer distances or increasing the number of days you run. People with flat feet are more likely to develop this condition.
- Achilles tendinitis. This is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon which is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon, though tight calf muscles can also contribute. Achilles tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity.
- Muscle strain. This is a small tear in the muscle, also called a muscle pull. It’s often caused by overstretching a muscle – you may even feel a popping sensation when it tears. This painful condition usually affects the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf, and groin.
- Ankle sprain. This is the accidental stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle. It often happens when the foot twists or rolls inward. Sprains typically get better with rest, ice, compression, and elevating the foot.
- Plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes. People with tight calf muscles and a high arch are more prone to this condition.
- IT (iliotibial) band syndrome. This condition causes pain on the outside of the knee. The IT band is a ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee. IT band syndrome happens when this ligament thickens and rubs the knee bone, causing inflammation.
Preventing Orthopedic Running Injuries
Fortunately, you can prevent many common orthopedic running injuries by taking a few precautions and planning your running routine more carefully. Here are some things you should keep in mind while you’re at it:
- Never push through the pain. Yes – feeling a little soreness after a running for a few miles is to be expected. But if you notice consistent pain in a muscle or joint that doesn’t get better with rest, then it’s time to come visit our office.
- Warm-up and stretch before running. Many injuries happen due to inadequate stretching. So before and after you run, warm up for five minutes before you start stretching, then stretch your muscles thoroughly (especially your calf, hamstrings, groin, and quadriceps).
- Do some cross training. Don’t only run – mix up your fitness routine a bit. You can try swimming, biking, playing tennis, etc. to help prevent overuse injuries which develop when you do the same type of exercise over and over again.
- Make sure the shoe fits. Wear proper-fitting socks and shoes that provide good support and cushioning. If the soles of your running shoes have worn thin or are angled, it’s time to get a new pair. And if you have foot problems, like flat feet or high arches, consider custom orthotics.
- Be wary of ground surfaces. Run on a flat, smooth surface and avoid steep hills until your body gets used to the activity.
You should also keep your safety in mind by running during the day, in well-lit areas, or use a light so that you can be seen. If running with headphones, set the volume low enough so that you can hear cars and other noises. Maybe even find a running partner if you can!
Treating Common Orthopedic Running Injuries
Most running injuries can be treated by following easy treatment methods, like RICE therapy. However, if pain and discomfort persist, your best course of action is to come visit our office for a better evaluation and an accurate diagnosis. Your condition may be more serious than expected and a more specific treatment may be required to find the relief you need.
In the meantime, try these simple steps:
- Rest. If you keep running, your injury may get even worse.
- Ice. Apply ice packs to the injured area to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.
- Compress. Wrap the affected area with tape and use splints and supports to control swelling and stabilize the affected area.
- Elevate. Do this to reduce any potential swelling you may be experiencing.
- Stretch. Gently stretch and massage the injured area to reduce pain and tension of the affected area.
- Take OTC medication. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), as recommended by your health care provider to relieve pain and inflammation.
We know we have already mentioned, but it’s worth emphasizing the importance of proper care. So, if the treatment steps above just are not working for you, please don’t hesitate to call our office. We offer a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic conditions, like total joint replacement and spinal disorders.
If you need orthopedic care give our office a call at 916-961-3434, or simply fill out our request from online to have one of our staff members reach out to you.