Posted by Michael Barber, July 29, 2013 (last updated on June 24, 2019)
Running is a great cardio activity but there are some common injuries that occur and some require emergency care. Here's a quick line-up of running injuries, ways to treat them and how to determine if you need medical care.
1. Stress Fractures
According to WebMD, runners are most susceptible to knee, shin, legs, and feet injuries. Stress fractures are most common in shins and feet. The cause of stress fractures are mainly due to running too hard and too often. Runners should build up their endurance before taking on long or difficult runs. Cross and strength training can build up your body and are highly recommended.
Treating Stress Fractures: Stress fractures resulting in mild to moderate pain will usually subside with rest. Avoid all sporting activities as additional stress on bones may cause the fracture to worsen and you'll need to seek the care of a physician.
2. Shin Splints
If you experience pain in the front or inside of your lower leg, right by the shine (tibia) bone, you may have developed a shin splint. The most common cause of shin splints are changing your running routine such as altering how far and how quickly you run. They can also be caused by suddenly increasing your run times from three times a week to seven days a week. Those with flat feet are more susceptible to shin splints.
Treating Shin Splints: Rest is widely recommended along with stretching exercises. Running should only continue after you allow your body to rest for several weeks. If you overdo, shin splits will not heal and may require urgent medical care.
3. Pulled Muscles
A muscle pull is probably the most common running injury. Muscle strains also fall into this category and cause small tears in muscles. Reasons for muscle tears or strains include overstretching or stepping up your running routine before you're ready. Symptoms include pain and a popping sensation. Most pulled muscles and strains are found in the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf, and the groin.
Treating Pulled Muscles: Avoid the need for emergency care by implementing RICE treatment — rest, ice, compression and elevation.
4. Achilles Tendinitis
Inflammation of the Achilles tendon is often the result of repetitive stress to the tendon. One way to diagnose the problem is how stiff it feels in the morning or if it gets worse once you begin exercise. You may also experience Achilles tendinitis due to tight calf muscles so warm-up stretches are highly recommended.
Treating Achilles Tendinitis: Avoid running and rest. Use ice on the area and begin a calf stretching routine to rebuild your strength. If pain doesn't subside after following these steps, you may need to seek the aid of a physician.
5. Ankle Sprains
If your foot twists or rolls inward when running it may result in an ankle sprain. The pain is caused by ligament tearing in the ankle area. Pre-run stretching can prevent ankle sprains. Those with high arches are more susceptible to ankle sprains.
Treating Ankle Sprains: Along with rest, calf stretches and ice can help alleviate this running condition. If pain persists you may develop a condition known as plantar fasciitis where the bottom tissue of the foot becomes inflamed. If pain doesn't subside after treatment and appropriate rest, immediate care may be needed for ankle sprains.
The best way to stop running injuries is to know your limitations, perform adequate stretches before you run, and avoid changing your routine until you've built up endurance and strength.