Whether it’s a light morning jog in your local park, a treadmill workout, or even a marathon preparation, running is a complex exercise and a staple of any cardiovascular routine. It has incredible benefits for your health and fitness, but you are also running the risk (get it?) of injuring yourself, which could potentially impede your ability to get back to the track the next day.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common running-related injuries, how to avoid them and how to treat them to speed up the recovery process and ensure a safe return to your routine.
Also known by its fancy name, patellofemoral pain syndrome, this is an injury with many causes, varying from weak glutes, quads or hips, which cause unaligned movement of your kneecap, tight hamstrings or calves that increase pressure on the knee, and certain biomechanical problems. The position of your kneecap, its size and a high risk of dislocation all contribute to the condition, along with worn out cartilage and the arching of your feet – too much, and you don’t have enough cushioning; too little, and your knees will have a tendency to draw inwards while you run.
As soon as you experience pain, slow down, rest well and shorten your running sessions until you recover. If it’s a recurring pain, make sure you’re warming up and stretching properly, work on strengthening your lower body and invest in high quality running shoes.
Simply put, it’s a small surface crack on your bones, caused by continuously increasing stress on your lower body through a high impact activity, and it’s one of the most severe injuries among runners. While it may start out as muscle pain and stiffness, it will differ from your regular training soreness, so don’t run through it.
You’ll need a doctor to make the diagnosis with an x-ray or a bone scan, and then prescribe the appropriate treatment, which will most likely include several weeks of rest. Most commonly affected areas are your lower legs and the metatarsals, so your recovery period will depend on the position of the injury, as your feet take more time to heal.
Ranging from tight hamstrings that are under too much tension, flexible hamstrings that are too stretched, a strength imbalance of your anterior and posterior chain, all the way to a pulled muscle, this is every runner’s potential Achilles heel. In case of sudden, severe pain, you’ll know it’s a pulled muscle and you’ll need a prolonged rest period before you get back in the game.
For chronic pain that’s not as acute, you can lower your workout intensity, and work on relieving tightness with stretching, foam rolling, and deep tissue massage. In case your pain is debilitating, persistent or messing with your regular daily hustle, using a Doyle’s Physio heating pad can help you with your day-to-day activities and speed up your recovery.
Although not a severe injury, medial tibial stress syndrome is one of the most common injuries among runners, dancers and even in the military, due to prolonged high impact stress on your lower body. It’s often caused by a change of pace in your workout, whether it’s duration or intensity, and the muscles around your shinbone can get slight tears, causing sharp pain, sometimes even swelling and affecting your performance.
While this is something no runner wants to hear, the best remedy for proper recovery is rest and cold packs. Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop working out altogether, but you will have to be mindful of your condition, and focus on relieving the pain and speeding up your recovery. Try swimming or a light, controlled jog with a slow progress of no more than a 10% increase in mileage per week.
The biggest favor you can do yourself is listening to your body. What might start out as an annoying ache or a typical case of muscle soreness, can turn out to be a more serious condition that will need time and patience to heal. Keep your routine safe, steer clear of overtraining yourself, and your body will be forever grateful, strong and fit for years to come!