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Ready to Up Your Mileage This Spring? Avoid These Common Runner’s Injuries

Ready to Up Your Mileage This Spring? Avoid These Common Runner’s Injuries

As we’re anticipating better weather in the coming weeks, you  may be gearing up to hit the pavement again. But, no matter how careful you try to be, the fact i, running takes a toll on your body. If you run a 10-minute mile, you’re taking an average of 1,700 steps, each one producing a reaction force of about 2½ times your body weight.

That’s a huge load for your body to absorb, even before you try to up your workout. According to research published in the journal BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, about 20% of runners will experience an injury while training.

At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care, serving Monroe Township, New Jersey, podiatric physician Dr. Elliott Perel and his team take exercise’s role in injury very seriously, which is why they encourage their patients to practice good techniques, such as warming up before you run and cooling down after. Here, they discuss some of the more common runner’s injuries and how you can avoid them.

Common runner’s injuries

While most running injuries occur to the lower body because of the nature of the sport, since your whole body is involved to some extent, some injuries can affect other areas as well.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation in the fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot and helps support your arch. You’ll feel a sharp, stabbing pain or deep ache in the heel or along the arch, most often when getting up in the morning, after sitting for long periods, or during the push-off motion of your foot.

Plantar fasciitis occurs due to sudden increases in mileage, overpronation (rolling of the foot and ankle), tight calves, too much uphill running, and inappropriate running shoes. The stress may cause tiny tears in the fascia, leading to pain.

You can avoid this injury by always warming up your entire body before doing your workout, getting proper runner’s shoes with plenty of heel and arch support, pacing yourself while running, trying “toe yoga” (alternately lifting and dropping your big toe and then your smaller toes), and resting if pain develops.

Achilles tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis usually produces pain close to the heel and occurs from tight or fatigued calf muscles (not stretching properly, increasing mileage too quickly, or overtraining), which transfer too much of the stress to the Achilles. When stressed, the tendon tightens, leading to irritation or inflammation.

You can avoid this injury by stretching before and after your workout, increasing pace and distance gradually, and learning to quit while you’re ahead. You can also perform isometric calf raises to reduce pain, then eccentric calf raises to build strength.

Runner’s knee (aka patellofemoral pain syndrome)

Runner’s knee is a common overuse problem that leads to an aching pain around or behind the knee cap, especially when running downhill.

The problem is caused by abnormal mechanics up- or downstream from the knee, such as weak posterior hip muscles, like the gluteus medius. This leads to rotating the leg inward, which forces the patella to bump against the femoral groove.

Aligning the knee properly, such as by activating your glutes and relearning proper hip extension, can correct a misalignment and improve your gait overall.

IT (iliotibial) band syndrome

IT band syndrome causes an aching, burning pain on the outside of the knee that may extend up the thigh to the hip. It occurs five to seven minutes into every run.

The syndrome is another overuse injury, exacerbated by worn-out shoes, pelvic imbalances, and weak glutes. These cause the leg to turn inward as you move, irritating the thick band of connective tissue that runs from the outside of your hip to the outside of the knee and that helps stabilize and move the knee joint.

In addition to ensuring you’re wearing supportive shoes, you can strengthen the gluteus medius muscles and correct the imbalances by performing hip hikes to keep the pelvis level.

Shoulder pain

We mentioned that your whole body is affected while running, so it’s no surprise that you may experience an aching or cramping of the shoulder muscles.

This happens when you hold too much tension in your upper body and/or you’re running with poor posture from a weakness in the upper body or lower back, most often due to prolonged sitting. Sitting forces your upper trapezius and levator scapulae muscles — large muscles that extend from the cervical vertebrae to the scapula — to become stressed from improper posture, and this carries over into how you hold your body when you run.

Exercises to increase your scapular strength can help. Pull your shoulders away from your ears with scapular push-ups, moving the bones together while standing straight upright.

Want to learn more about how to run-proof your body? Monroe Foot & Ankle Care can help. Give our office a call today at 732-978-9569, or schedule your consultation online with Dr. Perel.

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