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Running Tips: Common Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Injuries are inevitable in most sports, but they can be avoided if you have the right know-how. The majority of running injuries are the result of training errors. A few aches and pains are the price you pay for the enjoyment of running, but anything more severe can lead to long-term problems.

Pushing yourself too hard and not taking rest days can significantly increase the risk of running injuries. Depending on your age and fitness level, you should have at least two days of rest or non-running exercise each week. Giving your body time to recover and strengthen means your running performance will be more consistent.  The following are some of the most common running injuries.

1) Inflammation

Feet, ankles and knees are the parts of the body most likely to suffer inflammation as a result of running. Not having footwear designed for running is a common cause of painful swelling and inflammation in the feet and legs. For anything other than gentle jogging, you should visit a specialist store and invest in a pair of shoes offering support and shock-absorbing capability.

Anti-inflammatory medicines are a short-term solution to pain and swelling, but read the dosing instructions and never take for longer than recommended. Icing the affected areas can also help. Apply ice for around ten minutes and repeat every hour.

2) Achilles Tendonitis

This is another injury caused by the wrong footwear. If there is no flexibility in the soles of your running shoes, the calf muscles have to work harder, and this can result in tears and painful swelling. Pain along the Achilles tendon or back of the heel are the first signs of problems, and eventually, thickening and swelling become visible. Stretching the calf muscles before and after exercise is an effective way to prevent Achilles tendonitis.

3) Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue connecting the heel bone to your toes. Its role is to support the arch of the foot, and if stretched it can become swollen and pull away from the heel. Sharp stabbing pains in the heel are a common sign of plantar fasciitis, and without some form of treatment, it can become a long-term problem.

Sudden increases in running activity, increases in body weight and running shoes lacking in support are common causes of plantar fasciitis. Your running style can also lead to this injury, so spending time with a running coach is a good form of prevention. A coach can analyze your running gait and the way your feet strike the ground, and this can result in valuable advice to improve your biomechanics.

4) Runner’s Knee

Chondromalacia patella syndrome, or runner’s knee, is a softening of the cartilage in the kneecap. In the past, it was the reason many runners gave up and looked for gentler forms of exercise, but there are now preventative measures and treatments. Symptoms include sharp pain at the center of and below the kneecap. Rest and icing can help recovery in the early stages of runner’s knee, and exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee can reduce the impact over time.

5) Shin Splints

A general term for pain along the shin bone, shin splints is a common problem for new runners. Hard and uneven surfaces often trigger shin splints, so running on grass is one way to ease the problem. Other causes include tight calf muscles, poor core stability and running in worn-out trainers. Ice packs provide relief in mild cases, and complete rest is advisable if the problem persists. A physiotherapist can provide advice on stretching to ease shin splints and recommend exercises to allow you to resume running.

Most common running injuries can be managed or cured, so don’t give up if you experience pain. As this article highlights, running shoes can cause a number of different problems if they don’t fit properly or offer the level of support your body and running style requires.

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To learn more about what you can do to sustain a long-lived active lifestyle and manage or treat issues,  contact us for a consultation.

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