Running is a great way to exercise, it can improve both your physical and mental health and fills your lungs with fresh air. However, the repetitive impact of all those foot strikes on the ground can take a toll on your muscles, joints, and connective tissue.
According to healthline, your knees, legs and feet are the most common areas to get injured when running. Let's have a look at some of the injuries associated to running & what you can do to prevent & treat them.
Runners knee, or Patellofemoral pain syndrome, is where the cartilage on the underside of the patella (knee cap) is irritated. There's a number of reasons you might suffer from patellofemoral pain syndrome, it could be overuse and repeated stress on your knee, a sudden change in exercise routine or intensity, a direct injury or impact to your knee, poor patella alignment, weak or imbalanced muscles, or problems with your feet (e.g. flat feet or high arches).
How do you know if you have runners knee?
You'll feel a sharp or aching pain around your patella (knee cap)
Your knees might feel like they're grinding or inflamed
Your knees hurt or feel stiff when you climb stairs, squat or sit down
You'll hear a popping or cracking sound from your knees
Your knees might be sore after sitting for a long time.
Don't worry though, you can alleviate your pain!
A good physio will be able to help with your runner's knee, they'll assess whether it's a muscular imbalance, maltracking of your patella, postural issue or problems with your feet.
They'll be able to give you some great exercises to strengthen weak hip and glute muscles.
Avoid a reoccurrence - Try shorten your stride length while running and try to land with you knee bent slightly, this will take pressure and load off the joint. Strengthen your knee support muscles to keep your knee tracking as it should. If tight, stretch your hip flexors.
Plantar Fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia. You can find your plantar fascia at the bottom of your foot, it's a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs from your heel all the way to your toes. Plantar fasciitis can happen for no particular reason, however it can be linked to physical activity. Usually, people who have tight calves or a high arch in the foot are more susceptible to plantar fasciitis.
How do you know if you have plantar fasciitis?
You'll feel tenderness and pain at the base of your foot
There will possibly be some swelling at the base of your foot
Pain will develop to a constant, dull ache at the sites shown above
You might feel a sharp, stabbing pain in the sites shown above when walking or after sitting for a long period.
Of course, you can treat this!
Self massage (and seeing a massage therapist) along with stretches can alleviate your symptoms. You can also try freezing a bottle of water and running your foot over it for approximately 5 minutes a day. The sooner you stop it, the better!
Avoid reoccurrence - Ensure you're wearing the correct shoes for your feet while running, try going to a running shoe store and getting an analysis of your foot. Do your stretches & self massage daily
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia that runs from the outside of your hips, down the outside of your thigh, to the top of your shinbone. Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is an overuse injury of these tissues and causes pain and tenderness in these areas, especially just above the knee. ITBS is a common problem with runners and tends to get worse with repeated movement. It's also caused by wearing worn-out running shoes, overprinting your foot while running (rolling your foot inwards), changing the surface you run on, are new to running or have an increase in your activity levels, or run for long distances over time.
How do you know if you have iliotibial band syndrome?
You'll feel pain lateral (outside) to the knee
You might feel a strange stinging sensation when running
Your knee may sound like it's snapping or popping
The pain might radiate though the whole IT band, from the hip to the knee
Yes, it can be treated!
Luckily, massage and stretching is a fantastic way to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with ITBS. You'll also find that rest helps to reduce the inflammation too - this is likely what's caused it. There might be a muscular imbalance - a physio will be able to advise on what muscle groups to strengthen (usually hip and core).
Avoid reoccurrence - continue with massaging, stretching and if advised, any exercises given. If you're running on a track, change direction every few laps & try to limit how often you do hilly routes.