Everybody knows that exercise is vital to optimum health, and among the easiest, most common exercise is jogging and running. It’s great for developing cardio strength, stretches and stimulates those muscles after sitting on your desk all day, and the whoosh of fresh air as you speed up combined with that rush of endorphins is an exhilarating feeling. While running is a common exercise, unfortunately, running injuries are all too common as well.
It’s a common mindset that most running injuries are caused by wearing inappropriate footwear, but actually, it can also be caused by the way you run. If you are an avid runner and you often experience aches and pains post-run, you shouldn’t just brush it off and blame it on “old age”. It’s always best to stay informed about the inner workings of something as simple as running to prevent any serious injury, or worse, develop an irreversible muscle, nerve, or bone damage.
What are the common running injuries?
Sprained Ankle — When your foot lands on an uneven surface such as potholes, a bump on the pavement, a twig, or any hole or protruding surface, it disrupts your balance. The ligament inside your ankle is then injured once the ankle leans outwards or inwards upon hitting the change of surface. A sprained ankle can be quite painful and causes great discomfort. Not only that, but a sprained ankle makes one susceptible to a higher risk of more sprains in the future.
- Runner’s Knee — Also called patellofemoral pain syndrome, this is a common runner’s injury (as it is also named after them) that’s simply the pain behind the kneecap experienced during running, especially on prolonged runs when the kneecap is experiencing great stress whenever your feet land the ground and the impact of your weight falls on your kneecaps.
- Achilles Tendonitis — When running, the impact of your weight hitting your feet affects your Achilles tendons, as these are the first ones to absorb the impact. The tendons can become inflamed after long runs, and you experience a sharp pain and discomfort above your heel. This injury becomes more common especially during uphill climbs where greater stress is inflicted on the Achilles tendons.
- Plantar Fasciitis — If you start experiencing a sharp, tight pain in the bottom of your feet, it is caused by the overworked and stressed band of tissues stemming from your heel to your toes during running. A lot of runners have described this debilitating pain similar to walking on glass or stepping on nails, and this is a very common ailment even for experienced runners.
- IT Band Syndrome — Also called Iliotibial Band Syndrome, this sharp knee pain is caused by the Iliotibial band. It is a ligament located on your pelvis, all the way down to your shin. During running, walking, or jogging, the IT band helps your knee to achieve stability. The IT band can become inflamed especially when running downhill, and this causes a stabbing pain on the side of your knee.
How to avoid injuries in running?
- Do warm ups and stretches before running — It’s vital to do some basic stretches and warm up exercises before going out for a run. This wakes up your muscles, joints, and ligaments, and helps them anticipate and prepare for more physical movement.
- Always look where you are going — It goes without saying that you should be wary of the pavement/track you are running on and make sure to avoid any bumps, potholes, tree twigs, and uneven steps while you are running. This not only avoids those nasty sprained ankles, but of course it prevents a slew of even worse running injuries such as completely falling over and injuring other parts of your body. If you are a night runner, it helps to choose a track or path that’s well lit so you can easily avoid getting sprained from uneven surfaces that you may not be able to see.
- Don’t overwork yourself — Know your limits, and don’t push yourself more and more if you aren’t sure you can handle it. Your body might not be prepared for a sudden increase in work training, so it’s best to approach any increase gradually. When running, it’s recommended that you increase your mileage only by 10% each week to avoid any of these injuries mentioned.
- Learn how to run correctly — Everyone knows how to run, but not everyone knows the proper running form for your body. A little research, practice, and perhaps some extra help from a fitness instructor can help you determine the proper running form, such as where to land your feet, where to put your weight, and so on. This will not only greatly improve your running, but also helps avoid these common running injuries.
What to do when injured while running?
- Take a rest. Take your time, sit, and take a rest. Don’t push yourself further once you are injured, as your body needs to recuperate before you can resume your journey back to your destination.
2. Massage and Stretch. Try to massage the injured area to relieve some pain. Do some stretching to reduce tension on the affected area.
3. If the pain is too debilitating, it’s best to call for help rather than pushing yourself to continue, as this might even worsen your injury.
Will wearing the wrong pair of shoes cause you injury when running?
Improper running footwear can be a factor to most of the injuries mentioned above. A common injury caused by wearing improper footwear is blisters, which happen when your shoe rubs on your heel or the sides of your feet too much during running. Shoes that don’t offer enough padding for comfort can lead to annoying blisters. Some soles offer shock absorption that helps you prevent Achilles Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis.
It is also vital to first determine what kind of runner you are and how much running you intend to do when you decide on the running footwear you need. Your running profile will help you find the right footwear that will not only cater to your needs, but a good pair of running shoes can even help you run faster. When it comes to running footwear, it’s best to spend a bit more for good quality, durability, and utmost comfort.