Running is a great way to work up a sweat, burn calories, and build strong muscles. Ideally, anyone who runs should just keep running without sustaining an injury. However, there is a risk of injury from running, as with any high-impact activity. The hips, lower back, shins, knees, feet, and ankles are at the highest risk of injury when running. However, don’t let this stop you from the activity, which provides many benefits, such as enhancing cardiovascular fitness, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving mental health.
Injuries cannot be prevented 100% but it is a worthwhile goal to reduce your injury risk. Let’s talk about the most common running injuries and how to prevent them.
Runner’s knee is a very common injury in those who are new to running. A good conditioning program can help prevent this. Making sure the core, hamstring, and calf muscles are strong and not tight, and gradually increasing intensity and distance when running. Wear insoles to reduce impact when your feet hit the ground to help prevent this injury.
Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome
This iliotibial band runs from the hip to the knee, keeping the knee stabilized, and is important for its movement. An injury to this tendon can cause pain in the hip and knee. The tendon can become tight and inflamed if you do not rest between runs or cross-train, run on uneven surfaces or downhill aggressively, overstride, and use worn-out shoes. To avoid this injury, avoid all of these causes.
Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, is an overuse injury usually caused by a sudden intensity of the routine which stresses the tibia — the front bone in the leg. This injury can be prevented by a gradual increase in intensity, avoiding overstriding, warming up before running, and through a proper conditioning program. The muscles in the front and back of the legs should be properly stretched. Moreover, the back muscles should also be engaged while running, to reduce the impact on the front leg muscles and the tibia.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects the toes to the heel bone. It can become inflamed due to being overworked or running on hard surfaces. In addition, wearing the wrong shoes – ones that are not made for running — can also cause plantar fasciitis. Make sure to wear shoes with cushioning and arch support, and stretch the plantar fascia and calf muscles before each run. Choose medium to soft surfaces to run on, such as grass, woodland trails, and dirt paths.
Achilles tendinitis is an injury of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis can be prevented by stretching and strengthening the calf muscles. A sudden increase in activity can overload the tendon, so it’s best to take it easy and aim for a gradual increase.
To ensure you can keep running, have running injuries evaluated and treated by an orthopedic doctor. An orthopedic doctor can also educate you on how to prevent running injuries, as well as enhance your performance.
Orthopedic Surgeon in Little Rock, AR
Dr. William F. Hefley is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in treatments for sports injuries such as knee injury. Dr. Hefley has a lifelong love of sports and understands completely the desire to get back to the activity sooner. With skill, experience, empathy, and compassion, Dr. Hefley helps you lead a healthy lifestyle again.
Entrust the health of your joints to one of the best orthopedic surgeons in Arkansas. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hefley, call us today at (501) 663-6455 or use our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you in our Little Rock orthopedic clinic.