Are you an experienced runner who is training for the upcoming race season? Or perhaps a beginner who is looking to try a new activity to stay healthy? Regardless, there are some common injuries that most runners may experience at some point. When pain begins, it is best to address it early on rather than allowing it to worsen and ultimately needing to take a long break from running. Often times runners are experiencing pain but may not be fully “injured”. Following some of the tips in this series will help you avoid becoming fully injured. This blog series will discuss the most common injuries, how to resolve them and how to prevent them from returning. Today we will talk about the most common injuries that runners experience.
1. Knee Pain (aka Patellofemoral Pain): Runners often experience pain located in the front, center of their knee which is often from irritation on the underside of the patella. Knee pain composes about 40% of all running injuries. It’s commonly caused from excessive loads on the knee that can be due to weakness in the glutes, quads, and hip muscles. In addition, over-pronation can add additional loads on the knee eliciting pain.
2. Plantar Fasciitis: This is when runners experience pain in their arch or along the heel of their foot that sometimes feels like a bruise. It’s due to irritation and microtrauma (small tears) of the fascia along the bottom of your foot. Plantar fasciitis makes up 15% of running injuries and is sometimes difficult to get rid of since your feet take on large mechanical loads when weight bearing on them (ie: standing, walking, running). Causes for plantar fasciitis include high or low arches above average, as well as excessive pronation or supination. Increasing your mileage too quickly and not wearing supportive shoes are also contributing factors for plantar fasciitis.
3. Shin Splints: Shin splints are a dull, achy pain that is experienced along the tibia (shin bone), typically more on the inside of the lower leg. The pain is due to inflammation from small tears in the muscles along the tibia. However, shin splints are commonly misdiagnosed and could potentially be a stress fracture or compartment syndrome. They can develop from improper training techniques that increased mileage too quickly. Shin splints can also be due to excessive loads from running form, improper shoes, or over pronation of the foot.
4. Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome: The IT Band is a long, thick band of connective tissue that runs along the outside of your thigh from the hip to the knee. When the IT Band is tight, it creates friction at the outside of the knee with repetitive bending and straightening of the knee. Over time, this irritation leads to pain and inflammation. The most common cause of ITB Syndrome is weakness in the hip musculature that ultimately tightens the IT Band more and elicits this irritation. Over-pronation of the foot can also lead to ITB Syndrome.
As you can see, most of these injuries stem from muscle imbalances and improper alignment. We will go more in depth on how to resolve them and remain injury free in the next two posts of the series (click here for post 2 or post 3). If you have any questions on this topic or want to learn how to resolve your injuries to keep running, feel free to email us at FitandTonedWI@gmail.com.