Running is a high-impact aerobic exercise that improves heart and mental well-being. Apart from aiding in burning fat, it strengthens muscles and bones because it is also a weight-bearing exercise. A proven feel-good factor of running is that it releases hormones called endorphins in the bloodstream, which not only slow down age-related health issues but also boost the emotional and psychological well-being. This high-intensity workout is not without risk of injury though. Running injuries are a part and parcel of running.
Whether you are a marathon runner, or you run to stay fit, or you run on the race track, you may have experienced injury or pain at some point; you are lucky if you haven’t. Running injuries, sometimes, become a part of the activity itself.
Don’t worry! We will help you deal with them. Let’s look at the risk of injuries involved in running, how to treat or avoid these, and continue injury-free running for life.
Look at the changes and know what happens to your body during a run!
Top 5 Running Injuries
Lack of evidence makes it difficult to pinpoint candidates for risk of running injuries. However, it is believed that running more than 40 miles per week results in an increased number of miles run leading to a greater risk of injury.
Leading a non-active and sedentary lifestyle continuously for more than eight years or having a medical history of injury increases the risk of running injuries. Aged runners, new, and obese runners may sustain the highest injury rate.
Read about the most common running injuries –
Knees are the most affected part of your body while running. If there is pain or swelling around your kneecap, you are most probably having a runner’s knee, also called the patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Reasons causing knee injury may include overuse of the knee joint in runners, over training, or an improper running surface.
Anatomic reasons may include a breakdown of cartilage under the kneecap, or imbalance or weakness in the thigh muscles, which are responsible for proper placement of the kneecap.
Of course, there are ways to handle knee pain.
Resting your knee, applying an ice pack, elevating your knee while resting, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on doctor’s advice, and doing stretching exercises, are things you can do to make your knee feel better.
What about trying to prevent knee injury in the first place?
Yes, you can do that by using good quality shoes, replacing them once they are past their prime, using a knee brace for support, not increasing intensity levels suddenly, and not running on concrete surfaces.
Pain and inflammation of the Achilles tendon is called Achilles tendinitis. The Achilles is the tendon connecting two major calf muscles to the back of the heel bone. Tight or tired or overused calf muscles put a lot of stress on the Achilles tendon and continuous stress may result in a degenerative tear or rupture.
Resting, applying an ice pack, doing stretching exercises to ease the calf muscles, and doing toe raises can help before you can restart your activity.
Not running in worn-out shoes, avoiding running up a hill, wearing motion-control shoes or orthotics to tackle over pronation also helps.
Plantar Fasciitis is caused because of weak and tight muscles in the foot leading to heel pain, when the plantar fascia is inflamed, making it difficult to even stand or walk. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue or ligament connecting the heel bone to the toes that provide support to the arch of the foot.
Apart from the regular resting, use of ice pack and stretching for immediate relief, and a movement-based treatment called Active Release Technique for soft tissue injuries can be explored.
IT Band Syndrome:
Overuse, excessive mileage increase, running down a hill or on banked surfaces, and wearing worn-out shoes are common causes of Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) or inflammation in the iliotibial band, the ligament that connects the knee to the hip and provides stability to the knee joint.
Resting, applying ice or hot pack, and taking medication on doctor’s advice will help in reducing the inflammation. This can be followed up by doing stretches and muscle strengthening exercises.
Shin Splints refer to runners experiencing inflammation and pain in the shin area, as running puts a lot of stress on the lower legs. A sudden increase in running mileage and intensity are common causes for developing Shin Splints. Sometimes even new runners experience the same as their legs are unable to take the burden.
Resting, applying an ice pack, and drug therapy on doctor’s advice will bring down the inflammation and reduce the pain. Apart from these, you can also exercise and strengthen your muscles.
Do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent.
Tips to be Injury-free
Lack of adequate sleep and proper food intake, self-medication, and self-treatment for running injuries, not stretching enough before and after running, and increasing mileage and intensity randomly are a few habits runners need to break.
The key to remain a life-long runner is to run regularly , and maintain a healthy weight.
Invest in a good pair of running shoes for support and stability and replace them once they are worn out.
Do Stomach cramps hit you often while running? Check out How to Eliminate Stomach Cramps While Running – Tips for Runners .
Increasing intensity and mileage together may prove to be detrimental, so increase each one after intervals , to balance out the toll it may take on the body.
Avoid running on hard surfaces like concrete; choose soft surfaces like grass instead.
Exercise to make your muscles stronger and provide stability to your knee joint.
Stretching, before and after running, helps prevent muscle soreness, which, at times may lead to injury. Well begun is half done! So, preventing injury goes a long way in helping you stay healthy and run life-long.
Avoid these 12 Running Mistakes !
You can make running a daily habit to improve the body’s fat burning ability. Become a charity runner, or run for a cause. Buy comfortable clothing and footwear. Exercise using a foam roller to enhance flexibility. Don’t push too hard when you know your body is not cooperating.
Allow your body to rest and recover from running and the injuries.As much as possible, run on grass surfaces. In the meantime, you can try swimming or cycling before you can get back to running again.
Also read, the Correct Running Technique !
Happy injury-free running! Do share your experiences with us.