The 5 Most Common Injuries for Runners
The 5 most common injuries for runners
Whether you run competitively or just for fun, you’re probably aware that aches, twinges and soreness are part of being a runner. While you may achieve a runner’s high on your route, once you’re home, there’s a chance you could be dealing with a tender foot, a tight hamstring or a sore knee. Research even shows that close to 80 percent of runners are injured each year.
But how do you know when the pain is serious enough to stop running and head to the doctor?
The good news is most of these issues aren’t serious enough to sideline you for long, if you’re smart about it. Mild aches are usually no more than an inconvenient annoyance. However, pains that start out as harmless can turn serious if they’re not handled appropriately.
Most serious injuries are caused by overuse over a long period of time, so a little rest and relaxation can go a long way. Taking a little time off from your running routine when you’re in mild pain can save you from having to take a lot of time off later. And then, of course, there are serious injuries like ankle fractures that require immediate medical attention.
So what are the most common runner’s injuries? We’ve got them listed below, plus the best ways to prevent them and what treatment to use, if necessary.
The five most common running injuries
When you push your body too hard while running, problems inevitably arise. If any of these issues happen to you, be sure to get it under control before it turns into something more serious that could keep you off the road for longer.
- Runner’s knee
Runner’s knee is one of the most common running injuries brought on by overuse. It often occurs when your kneecap is out of alignment, and it has several different causes. Basically, the cartilage on your knee cap wears down over time, causing you to feel knee pain when squatting, climbing or descending stairs, or sitting with your knee bent for an extended period of time.
- Shin splints
Have you recently started running longer distances or running more days per week than usual? Chances are, you have shin splints, especially if you have flat feet. Shin splints are painful, affecting the front or inside of your lower leg along your tibia, or shin. With a little rest, they go away.
- Stress fracture
A stress fracture is a tiny crack in your bone that causes pain. It’s usually in your shin or foot, and is caused by pushing your body too hard when starting a new workout. Rest is key, since continued pressure on the bone can lead to more serious injury.
- Achilles tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis happens when your Achilles tendon, the large tendon that attaches your calf to your heel, becomes inflamed. Typically, there’s pain and stiffness in the tendon area, particularly in the morning and with activity. Caused by overuse, running long distances can cause it, and tight calf muscles can add to it.
- Pulling a muscle
When you pull a muscle, your muscle tears a little bit, often popping audibly as it does. The muscles that are most often affected are hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and groins.
How to prevent injury
Most of these injuries are totally preventable. The most effective way to prevent injuries is to listen to your body. Learn to tell the difference between soreness and pain, and be sure to rest a painful muscle or joint. If rest doesn’t help, pay a visit to your doctor.
Here are some other ways to make sure you’ll be running the distance injury-free:
- Have a plan. Don’t just start running. Have a trainer assess your current fitness abilities and long-term goals to help you create a running routine that won’t overwork your body.
- Warm up. Most running injuries occur due to inadequate stretching. Before and after you run, gently stretch your calves, hamstrings, groin and quadriceps to ensure you don’t overwork them or overextend them.
- Change up your workout. By introducing strength training, swimming, biking or some other activity into your routine, you can strengthen different muscles and your core, making it less likely you’ll injure yourself.
- Wear the right shoes and socks. Shoes and socks that fit properly and shoes that offer good support are key to avoiding foot problems.
- Run smart. When you’re starting out, run on flat, smooth surfaces and avoid steep hills. Try to run when it’s light out or in well-lit areas, so you can be seen. Carry your cell phone and identification with you, and run with a partner when possible.
How to treat running injuries
Most running injuries can be treated with rest, ice and heat therapy, compression, elevation, stretching or pain relievers. But sometimes, more serious treatment is required.
At Onward Orthopedics, we partner with the best orthopedic surgeons to offer Jones fracture repair, ankle arthroscopy, ankle ligament repair, ankle arthrodesis and ankle joint replacement. If you think you might qualify for one of these procedures, request an appointment online or call us at 210.880.3823.