Whether you are running for pleasure or are pushing yourself as you train for a race, it's almost inevitable that you'll encounter some aches, pains and twinges along the way. While avoiding this kind of pain is ideal, it unfortunately isn't always possible. The key to preventing injuries, however, isn't about avoiding pain altogether but rather about knowing what to do when you do encounter pain during your runs or shortly after.
Knowing how to identify potential injuries and working with a physiotherapist who is versed in sports medicine to respond appropriately will help to avoid any acute injuries which could otherwise keep your running shoes in the closet for a long time. Here are 5 different injuries to keep your eye out for while running.
1. Runner's Knee
Runner's knee is a very common injury found in runners across Canada. If you notice pain or tenderness around your kneecap when you start your run that fades as you get deeper into your exercise, you may have the beginnings of runner's knee.
If, after running, you notice that this pain flares up again, especially after sitting for long periods of time, this may also be a sign that your kneecap's cartilage is starting to wear down and you should seek out physiotherapy as soon as you can. This common injury only grows worse without proper attention.
2. Shin Splints
A bit less common than runner's knee, shin splints are frequently found in runners. This injury is actually a series of small tears in the tissue of your shin that develop while you run. Shin splints generally feel like an achy pain that runs all the way down your shins.
This injury can occur at any time but is most common after suddenly increasing the distance or frequency of your runs and in runners with flat feet. If you can walk or jump without any pain, but encounter issues with pain and tightness when you start running, see our physiotherapists for ways to correct this issue.
3. Achilles Tendinitis
Also called tendinopathy, this injury is the inflammation of your Achilles tendon—the large tendon connecting the back of your heel to your calf. Achilles tendonitis causes stiffness and pain in the area surrounding the tendon, especially during activity and in the morning.
This injury will generally occur when you place too much stress on your tendon by adding too much distance to your runs, having tight calves, or other sources of repetitive strain. If you have muted pain in your heel while running but icing or other at-home remedies generally take care of it, you should contact your physiotherapist before it grows worse.
4. Plantar Fasciitis
This injury is an inflammation of a thick band of tissue running along the arch at the bottom of your foot - called the plantar fascia. This injury will generally express itself as a significant pain in your heels, often in the first steps you take each morning. You may also notice a dull ache or bruising on your heel as the tendons and ligaments of your foot endure small tears.
You should book an appointment with a physical therapist if you notice this kind of pain in order to avoid it from becoming constant.
5. IT Band Syndrome
This syndrome expresses itself as a pain that shoots down your leg to the outside of your knee. When the iliotibial band, a ligament that runs from the outside of your thigh to your knee, thickens and begins rubbing against your knee, it becomes inflamed and causes pain which can be mistaken for a knee injury.
Generally speaking, the pain from this syndrome will begin when you are about a kilometer or two into your run. You may be able to alleviate some of the pain by "walking it out," however, you should always see a physical therapist to make sure it doesn't develop into a much more severe injury.