Many runners sustain injuries from overuse, improper technique and inappropriate footwear. In our last post, we discussed a common foot and ankle related problem called Achilles tendinitis, which is also a condition seen in runners. Below, we’ve explored more conditions that affect runners’ musculoskeletal health with a Rebound physical therapy expert (who happens to be a running fan himself).
Starting from the feet up, here’s a look at three common running injuries and potential treatment methods.
This condition happens when the band of tissues, the plantar fascia, supporting the arch of your foot absorbs too much stress. When the tissues are strained from activities like running, they become inflamed, causing pain at the bottom of the heel.
“Plantar fasciitis is so increasingly common, that nearly two million people are treated for it each year,” says Michael Baer, a Rebound physical therapist with more than 17 years of experience. “Most patients can recover without surgery. As with most overuse injuries, rest, ice and physical therapy are beneficial and effective.”
Calf stretches, or other exercises that stretch your feet and calves, are recommended to relieve pain.
This ailment to the inner edge of the tibia, or shinbone, is commonly referred to as shin splints. This stress-related condition happens when the tendons, muscles and tissue around the tibia become inflamed.
“Many different forms of exercise can cause shin splints, but it is especially common in runners, or in athletes whose sports involve running. Soccer, basketball, etc.,” says Baer.
“They’re usually brought on by repetitive movement and exercise, and cause sharp pain in the shinbone. Luckily, shin splints can typically be overcome without surgery,” says Baer. “Rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication are generally beneficial practices. Compression bandages and exercises that stretch and strengthen your lower leg muscles.”
If you’re experiencing shin splints, you may also need to consider your footwear. Wearing properly fitting athletic shoes that provide enough support to your arch may help prevent shin splints. If you have an especially flat foot, you can also consider orthotics.
When heavy stress is placed on the knee, a dull, aching pain in or around the kneecap can occur. This pain, commonly called “runner’s knee,” can be brought on by a variety of issues such as dislocation, strained tendons or tissues, malalignment, muscular weakness and even flat feet/improper shoe support.
“While the knee is the largest joint in the body, it is sensitive and susceptible to injury, particularly in runners and other athletes,” says Baer.
“There are many ways we can place too much stress on our knees. Anything from overuse to improper technique or form can cause what we call runner’s knee.”
If you’ve recently increased your frequency or intensity of running or training, wear shoes lacking shock absorption or support, fail to condition or stretch, you may be more likely to acquire runner’s knee. Like with shin splints and plantar fasciitis, rest, ice and compression often yield results for minor cases. If your pain and swelling do not subside, physical therapy and bracing may be recommended.
Because runner’s knee can also indicate alignment issues, Rebound physicians may suggest surgery to correct the alignment of the kneecap and address damaged cartilage.
Runners place a considerable amount of impact on their feet, ankles, knees and legs, and Rebound has the expertise to help the beginner runner and the seasoned runner prevent and recover from injury. Throughout the year, we’ll take a look at other sports-related injuries and prevention/treatment methods. For more prevention and treatment solutions, visit with one of our orthopedic specialists or physical therapists.
For a more in-depth look at these common running injuries and others, check out these great resources!