If you are suffering from a running related injury right now, don't worry, you aren't alone. In fact, statistically, one of your running friends is probably injured right now as well. About 60% of all runners get injured in some way, shape, or form each year. Since running is the number one participant sport in the world, that is a bunch of hurt people limping around. I wanted to talk about some of the more common injuries, how to prevent them, and what to do if you just so happen to get one.
1. Plantar Fasciitis - Some even wince at the name, Plantar Fasciitis, or PF for short, is the tightening and tearing of your Plantar Fascia, which is located on the bottom of your foot, originating on the bottom of your heel bone extending down toward your toes.
How do I get it? PF is often brought on by extended weight bearing exercise. If you're running excessively, hitting with 2-3 times your body weight every step, PF could be right around the corner waiting for you to not stretch so it can come in and bite on that heel. If you know someone who has it that doesn't run, a high BMI is often times the cause of PF in non-runners.
How do I know if I have it? Trust me, you will know. You will have a shooting pain in your heel or arch that is especially bad in the morning. Another symptom commonly found with pain is the loss of flexibility of bending your toes toward your shin, called dorsiflexion.
Warning! Plantar Fasciitis can last years, so if you feel a little pain you think might be the start of something, seek the advice of a podiatrist right away to diagnose you. The sooner you start stretching and trying to heal your foot, the better.
2. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) - Another one of those injuries that makes you feel sick just thinking about it. ITBS is the inflammation of your IT band, which is a big V-shaped tendon starting at your hip and shrinking down connecting to the outside bottom of your knee.
How do I get it? Common ways to get ITBS are running on a banked surface (lateral or vertical) repeatedly, inadequate stretching, lack of cross-training (like swimming or cycling), and even having the wrong type of running shoes.
How do I know if I have it? You will likely feel a sharp pain where the IT band connects to your muscles, either in your hip, or on the lateral (outside) side of your knee. Knee pain is more common with runners, but it's not impossible to get some hip pain. A typical ITBS pain won't start immediately during your workout, it will get worse as time goes on. Often time I hear people complaining about a pain in their knee about 2 miles into a workout and instantly ITBS pops into my head. That is a tell-tale sign you have it, you don't feel it at first but it consistently flares up after a couple of miles into your workout.
How do I get it? Beginning runners get it because they try to do too much too soon. Their muscles and tendons aren't built up enough to take all that new pounding they are presenting themselves with, and the muscles fatigue and cause the Sharpey fibers in your leg to become disrupted. If you have shin splints and you aren't new to running, it could be one of two things causing your problem: your shoes are worn out, or you aren't taking enough rest days. Not only could your shoes be worn out, but if they aren't correcting you the right amount, it could cause shin splints because the inward rolling (pronation) is causing some unwanted torque on your legs. Now, to determine if your shoes are worn out, there are a couple easy tests. First, if you look at the bottom and the tread is completely smooth, you need a new pair of shoes. Two, if you grab the forefoot with one hand and can bend it almost in half, the integrity of the midsole is shot and it's time to go pick up another pair. The reason a worn out shoe would cause shin splints is because now nothing is protecting you from the ground, sending all 3 times your body weight's worth of impact straight into your legs.
What can I do about it? As I said earlier, check to make sure it's not your shoes. Try finding a place like RunOn! near you who provides a free service to watch you walk and analyze your gait and look at the wear patterns on your shoes to tell you if they are worn out and if it was a good shoe for you. BUT if it wasn't the shoes, there is a good acronym to follow:
R - rest
I - ice
C - compression
E - elevation
This is very simple, just take a couple days off, put on some ice and a leg sleeve and kick back and enjoy your time off. Oh and one more thing, for a couple of days after you start to feel better, try running just in the grass or on a low-impact treadmill just to give your legs a tiny bit of extra time to recover.
4. Chafing - While technically not an injury, this one haunts runners young and old alike. Chafing in runners can be under your armpits, between your thighs, or even between your toes. Often looking like a red rash, you won't typically know you're chafed until you hop in the shower after a run and feel a good old fashioned burning wherever it may be.
How do I get chafed? Chafing is caused by the rubbing of two parts of skin over and over again. Runners with bigger legs often get their upper thighs chafed while heavier-set runners often get chafing under their armpits.
What can I do now that I'm already chafed? Well it's too late now for Body Glide, but what I typically do after I get chafed is apply a generous portion of A&D cream to the afflicted area and it usually clears up in about a day. For really bad chafes, I would take some time off to recover and try to keep the area open and friction free as best as I possibly could.
So there is your very own guide to running injuries! I hope you learned how to prevent some future injuries or even how to treat for one you have now. Running is no fun if you hurt the whole time! I want everybody to be able to run to their full potential, but how can they do it when they are hurt all the time! So take some preventative measures and let's take that 60% down to 20%! Thanks for reading and sharing The Life of a Runner.