Running has a major positive impact on well-being. That said, it is not a completely risk-free activity. The endorphins kick in, and you get carried away. This can result in injury from too much physical exertion. To try and prevent you falling into that trap, we’ve put together an article setting out the five most common running injuries with tips on how to avoid them.
5 COMMON RUNNING INJURIES
Known as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints are caused by excessive physical activity and cause pain to the lower leg. The cause is subjecting the muscles and tendons to severe physical stress. The pain is on the front or inside of the lower leg and can vary from sharp to throbbing.
Treatment: Shin splints often heal on their own. To speed up the healing process, you should avoid the physical activity that causes pain, or do a form of exercise that does not put stress on the lower legs. Cycling or swimming are two gentle sports that are good for this. It is also a good idea to think about the type of shoes you are wearing. Try trainers with good stability and shock-absorbing properties.
Calf strain is an umbrella term for a range of symptoms in and around the calf muscles. Typical signs of calf strain include acute and severe pain, burning pain with activity that subsides with rest, numbness, cramping, stiffness, weakness and tenderness when you squeeze the calves. There may also be a grating sound or a pop when the injury actually occurs.
Treatment: Calf strain is a collective name for several symptoms/injuries, so the treatment depends on the symptom/injury you have. If it is a muscle fracture, the POLICE regime* is recommended. If the symptoms are more painful, rehabilitation training is recommended instead.
P – Protect: Protect the injured area by taping and bandaging it, or use joint protectors or crutches.
OL – Optimal Loading: Load as early as possible but not too hard or heavy.
I – Ice: Apply some form of cold, such as an ice pack, for 10-20 minutes every two hours.
C – Compression: Stop swelling and reduce pain through compression. An elastic bandage around the affected area usually helps.
E – Elevation: This means that the injured area should be in an elevated position.
Pain in the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendonitis is the name usually given to the small injuries that occur to the Achilles tendon after strenuous exercise. The signs are persistent pain and stiffness in the heel, ankle and calf.
Treatment: Activate your foot by exercising your mobility and strength. Wear sturdy shoes and possibly an insole to relieve the tendon. Very severe heel pain may require surgery.
Heel spurs, also known as calcaneal spurs, get their name from the spur, in fact a piece of bone structure, formed on the underside of the heel. It makes the tendon attachment under the heel sore and painful.
Treatment: Put insoles inside your shoes. Also make sure to stretch and activate the foot to relieve the tension in the tendon joint. Doctors don’t usually give cortisone injections for heel spurs because there is a high risk that you will overload your foot even more, but it does happen occasionally. If that doesn’t help either, you can have shock wave treatment or surgery.
Indications of runner’s knee are pain and/or popping sounds on the outside of the knee. The pain often comes on gradually and it progresses from being manageable to becoming more obvious.
Treatment: A foam roller is recommended and stretching the IT band, i.e. the tendon that extends along the thighbone and causes pain when rubbed and/or irritated (read: runner’s knee).
How do I avoid these problems?
1. Vary the surface (and shoes!)
The body needs to be challenged to develop. You need variety to avoid monotonous training and movements. Running on different surfaces (asphalt, hills, running track, terrain) activates and strengthens more muscles and joints. This in turn reduces the risk of injury because a larger number of body parts are activated. It is also a good idea to change shoes occasionally to vary your stride.
2. Warm up properly
Warming up raises the temperature of the muscles, making them suppler and more flexible. Coordination also improves when muscles are warm. This is an advantage when going for a run as it reduces the risk of stepping on the wrong side and stubbing/bruising your feet.
3. Shorten and vary your stride
A good run is not the same as a long run. Just running and running and running wears out your body. A worn-out body is more prone to injury. This is why it’s important to listen to your body’s signals. One such signal might be telling you to run for a shorter time or slow down. Another might be to supplement with strength training, for example.
Massage has many benefits. It softens muscles, alleviates any soreness and speeds up the recovery process. This is where Flowlife comes in. Our massage products come with a range of different nozzles and intensities for you to choose from, depending on your needs.
5. Rest and recover
The importance of rest and recovery cannot be stressed enough. Taking a rest day every week, sleeping enough hours a night and eating the right food for your needs are essential for physical growth and performance.