Running Injuries - Tools to Keep Going!

The race season is almost upon us! For seasoned runners and newcomers alike, now is the time to prepare for those 5K’s and beyond. Most running injuries tend to occur when people are returning to running, just getting started, increasing their distance, or attempting to increase their speed. In preparation for hitting the running trails, we at TherapyWorks have put together a list of running injuries and how to prevent them.

One of the most common injuries I see as a physical therapist is patellofemoral pain syndrome, commonly referred to as “runner’s knee”. With runner’s knee people will often have pain around their knee cap. In order to prevent such discomfort runners should assess their shoes for proper arch support and work to strengthen their glutes, hips, and quads. Rest time, icing, avoiding running downhill, and cross training are other ways to combat runner’s knee successfully.

Another common injury is shin splints, that achy pain in the front of your shins that has sidelined many a runner, but what numerous people do not know is that your hip flexors might be at fault.

As always shoe fit and proper support is important, along with cross training, rest, and ice, but strengthening your hip flexors is another good place to start your preparations for success.

Hamstring pain can also plague runners. If you have pain in the muscle at the back of your thigh and the pain was sudden, strong, and leaves the area with bruising you should consider consulting a medical professional. Hamstring tears may require extended rest, sometimes for months, before the runner is able to safely return to running. Chronic overuse injuries, which are less severe, generally require running at a slow and easy pace. In order to prevent this discomfort from ever befalling you, consider adding hamstring stretching and strengthening to your routine.

Next in the list of nagging injuries that can get between you and a good jog is IT band syndrome. Runners often get pain down the outside of their thighs from the hip to the knee if they suffer from weak hip musculature, namely abductors and glutes.

Another concern is proper arch support to prevent over-pronation at the foot. Exercises to strengthen the gluts and abductors, also stretches for the IT band, can help to get you back on the trails or assure that you never have to leave them.

Last, but certainly not the least, is plantar fasciitis. This a nasty pain that can show up in your heal during your first step of the morning or in your arch during your run. The plantar fascia covers the base of your foot from the heel to your toes and those without proper arch support, with tight calves, and/or with a weak core often fall prey to this nasty injury. Rolling a frozen water bottle under your feet, stretching your calves, wearing proper arch supports, and strengthening your core can all help to treat and prevent foot pain from getting in the way of your run.

In summary strengthening of both your legs and core is very important. Stretching is nonnegotiable if you want to be able to run for many years to come. If pain is preventing you from lacing up your tennis shoes, though, feel free to call TherapyWorks to schedule a free screen so we can assess if physical therapy is just the thing to get you back in action.

Megan Remmert, DPT TherapyWorks

Tagged: physical therapy, running, runners injuries, PT


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