Everybody despises injuries. These little devils have a way of creeping up on us at the most inopportune time, but are often a long time in the making, and could have been attended to earlier, has we only known that they would ultimately have the capacity to put us out for weeks on end.
If you’re a runner, these are some of the most common running injuries that you should keep an eye out for.
Runner’s knee is the colloquial term for Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or PFPS. Runner’s knee sets in when there is irritation of the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap, and the condition is characterised by pain or discomfort after a long run, after extended periods of sitting, or when descending from an incline. Although you will still be able to run through this injury, it is recommended that you take extra rest days and reduce the duration and length of your runs until you have recovered.
2. Shin splints
Medial tibial stress syndrome is the term that medical professionals use to describe shin splints. This condition is accompanied by pain along the shinbone on the front or inside of the lower leg, and can be the result of wearing the wrong shoe or running too much in a short amount of time. If you experience shin splints, tone down your runs to a comfortable level, and slowly build up again, taking care to not increase the distance you run by more than 10% each week.
3. Achilles tendinopathy
Inflammation of the large tendon that attaches the calf to the back of the heel can cause stiffness and pain in the area of the Achilles tendon. This is often caused by repetitive stress to the tendon, caused by distances that are too long or sometimes by tight calf muscles. Do not try to run through this type of injury, as it could lead to complications that can have you out of the game for up to six months. Rehabilitate the Achilles tendon by doing eccentric heel drops on a daily basis, and only return to your normal running routine after the condition has disappeared. Compression socks have proven useful to runners who are prone to this type of injury.
4. Plantar fasciitis
Tiny tears in or inflammation of the ligaments or tendons that run from the heel to the toes leads to a bruise or dull ache on the bottom of the heel or along the arch of the foot. Excessive amounts of running on hard surfaces like the road without proper support or standing for extended periods of time could lead to this common injury. The typical recovery time for plantar fasciitis is around six months, but may be anything from three months to a year. During the recovery period, you should avoid running and maintain fitness with alternative exercise like swimming or cycling, provided that you don’t experience pain while doing this.
5. Stress fractures
By far the most serious common running injury, stress fractures are the result of repeated cumulative strain on the bone. Stress fractures can occur in the shinbone (tibia), feet (metatarsals) or heels (calcaneus). If you are diagnosed with a stress fracture, take 8 to 16 weeks off to recover fully, to prevent serious injury. Only resume running once you are able to do so without any pain during or after your run.
As far as injuries go, the golden rule is to listen to your body. If anything seems out of sorts, don’t ignore any pain, however slight it may be. Rather visit your physician or physiotherapist for a proper diagnosis and expert advise on recovery.