CareNow® - May 31, 2023
Runner grabbing their ankle.

It’s that perfect time of year when runners flock to the streets to enjoy the gorgeous weather. After months of being stuck indoors on a treadmill, many runners will increase their mileage or find a race for which to start training. Unfortunately, that increase in mileage can easily lead to injury.

Whether you’re a seasoned runner or this is your first time giving it a go, you’re at risk of certain injuries. Keep reading to find out exactly what those injuries are and how to prevent them so you can stay healthy.

What Are Common Running Injuries?

Like any physical activity (especially those that involve repetitive motion), running carries the risk of injury. Common running injuries can range from minor to severe and can impact any part of the body involved in the sport, including the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back. Let’s explore some of the most common running injuries.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common injury that affects the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the toes. If you experience pain and stiffness in the bottom of your heel and foot, especially when first getting out of bed in the morning, you may be dealing with plantar fasciitis. Overuse, improper footwear, and tight calf muscles can trigger the injury.

Shin Splints

Between 10 and 20 percent of runners will deal with shin splints at some point in their running career. Shin splints impact the lower leg and cause pain along the front of the shinbone. Shin splints can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, wearing the wrong running shoes, and running on hard surfaces.

Runner's Knee

Runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is an injury that causes pain around the kneecap. It can be caused by overuse, incorrect running technique, or muscle imbalances. With runner’s knee, you may experience pain in and around the kneecap and hear a grinding or clicking sound when you bend or straighten your knee.

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis affects the Achilles tendon, a thick band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. This injury is characterized by pain and stiffness in the back of the heel, especially during activity. Achilles tendinitis can be caused by a sudden increase in exercise, overly tight calf muscles, or a condition called Haglund’s deformity, where an enlargement of the bone appears on the back of the heel.

IT Band Syndrome

Pain on the outside of the knee that flares up during activity could be a sign of IT band syndrome, an injury that affects the iliotibial (IT) band, a thick band of tissue that runs from the hip down to the knee. There are many things that can cause IT pain, including excessive foot pronation, weak hip abductors, and arthritis.

Stress Fractures

The repetitive force from running can lead to tiny cracks in the bone known as stress fractures. This injury can occur in the feet, legs, or hip — often in bones that are weaker due to osteoporosis. Those who start a new exercise program or increase their mileage quicker than is recommended can easily experience stress fractures.

How to Prevent Running Injuries

Running is a great way to stay active and healthy, but it can also put a lot of stress on your body, increasing the risk of injury. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help prevent running injuries and keep yourself healthy and injury-free.

While running injuries are common, there are steps you can take to help prevent them. Some tips for preventing running injuries include:

  • Choose shoes that are designed for running and that fit properly. Replace your shoes every 300-500 miles or every six months, whichever comes first.
  • Avoid sudden increases in mileage or intensity, and give your body time to adjust to new routines. Increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week.
  • Incorporate other forms of exercise, such as swimming or cycling, into your routine to help prevent overuse injuries.
  • Incorporate stretching and strength training exercises into your routine to help prevent muscle imbalances and improve flexibility.
  • Pay attention to any aches or pains you experience while running. If something doesn't feel right, take a break and rest or seek medical attention.

When to Seek Medical Attention for a Running Injury

If you experience pain or discomfort while running, it’s important to listen to your body and seek medical attention if necessary. Running injuries can get worse over time if left untreated, so you should always address them quickly.

Common signs that you may need to seek medical attention for a running injury include:

  • Pain that persists beyond a few days
  • Pain that gets worse during activity
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the affected limb

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider who can help diagnose the injury and develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.

In some cases, treatment for a running injury may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), as well as physical therapy or other forms of rehabilitation. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the injury.

It's important to note that continuing to run through an injury can make the injury worse and prolong recovery time. It is better to take a break from running and seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Can Urgent Care Help Running Injuries?

Urgent care is a great place to seek medical care for your running injuries. At CareNow®, our qualified medical providers are prepared to treat you when you need it most, including after hours and on the weekend.

We’ve also received the honorable title of Accredited Urgent Care Center from the Urgent Care Association (UCA), which showcases our dedication to our patients’ care.

With proper care and management, most running injuries can be effectively treated, allowing you to get back to running and enjoying all the benefits it has to offer.

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