Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Runner’s Knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, otherwise known as runner’s knee, occurs when the cartilage under your kneecap becomes inflamed. People with runner’s knee generally experience flare-ups during or after long runs, after sitting for a long time, or during or after going down hills or stairs.

Issues with your running style can cause or worsen runner’s knee. If your foot rolls inward when you run, or if you have weak quads, hips, or glutes, your knees have to take up the slack, which puts you at extra risk. Prevent runner’s knee, or avoid a relapse, by strengthening your quads with lateral side steps or bicycling, and strengthening your hips and glutes with hip lifts. If you’re experiencing mild runner’s knee, run on a treadmill at an incline. Running uphill is easier on the knees, and strengthens your glutes. Shorten your slide length and stop when it gets painful. For a workout that’s easier on the knees, swim or use the elliptical.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is tightness or irritation in the achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel. You’re most likely to experience achilles tendonitis if you’ve started training harder than usual, especially if that includes increasing your speed or taking more hills. Prevent developing achilles tendonitis by wearing compression socks for hard workouts.

Don’t try to run through achilles tendonitis. It will make it harder for you to heel, and you might develop worse problems. Ice your achilles tendon five times a day, and avoid overstretching your calves. Stay in shape by pool running or swimming. Strengthen your calves by doing 20 reps of heel drops daily. Continue doing heel drops even after you’ve healed, to prevent future injury.

Hamstring pain

Most hamstring pain is not bad enough to indicate severe injury, but it is painful and uncomfortable to run through. Hamstring pain is caused by weak hamstrings or a muscular imbalance in which your hamstrings are weaker than your quadriceps. Strengthen your hamstrings with one-legged deadlifts, or by doing bridges with leg lifts on an exercise ball. Use a foam roller to limber up your muscles before or after a workout.

If you experience sudden, strong pain or bruising, you will need to stop running altogether. Unfortunately, once hamstring pain gets this severe, it takes a long time to heal. Best to prevent it before that happens.

Plantar fascitis

Plantar fascitis is the most common foot problem that runners experience. It happens when your plantar fascia becomes torn or inflamed. Runners with high or low arches are most likely to suffer plantar fascitis, as both types of foot stretch and strain these tendons.

Sooth flare-ups by rolling your foot over an iced water bottle, and make sure that your shoes fit. You may want to modify your running shoes with a custom orthotic. Take the weight off your foot by pool running or swimming, or use a bicycle or elliptical, if you can do that without pain. Doing exercises to strengthen your core may help prevent future flare-ups.

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