Running puts your body through a lot of physical pressure and it is common that runners find themselves injured at some point. The important thing is to know what to do with your injury… Should I run through the pain? Should I rest today? Is it serious?
Find some of the most common running injuries and helpful advice on what treatment is best:
1. Knee pain (Runner’s knee)
This is a very common injury in runners. It is usually when the area under the knee swells and you feel either a sharp and severe OR dull pain around/behind the kneecap when you run.
Possible treatments – Apply ice to the knee to reduce swelling. Try running uphill to strengthen glutes and improve control of movement of the knee, hips and thighs. Squats, lunges and straight leg raises are all exercises that can help to support your knee. However, if pain is severe then you should not run or work the knee but see your doctor.
2. Shin splints
This is the name applied to general pain over the front of the lower leg. It is often quite a dull pain caused by small tears in your tibia (the shin bone).
Possible treatments – In the first few days of pain use ice to soothe the area. Do not try to run through it, running should be significantly reduced to avoid further, serious damage. Gradually build up your running to a normal level when your shin starts to feel better. Make sure you have the correct type of shoes for your foot and even running on grass will help to reduce the impact on the lower leg.
3. Heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
A sharp, painful sensation at the base of the foot towards the heel and along the arch. If you have very high or very low arches then you are more prone to suffer from this.
Possible treatments – Do stretches that target the heel and to prepare your feet for training. Make sure you have trainers that are suitable for your type of feet. Short term relief treatments are to roll your foot over a golf ball and an iced water bottle. You should wait until the heel is better before running (normally 2/3 weeks but severe cases can take up to 6 months).
4. Muscle strains
New runners often complain of muscle strains after running, specifically the hamstring muscle which is used for sudden acclerations. It may feel as though someone has kicked you suddenly in the back of the thigh.
Possible treatments – Do not continue to run if you have pulled the muscle. Apply ice at regular intervals throughout the day and elevate the leg to reduce swelling. See a doctor if you have problems walking and if the pain does not subside after a rest period. Try swimming and pool-running as safe alternatives to maintain exercise.
How to prevent further injury…
✓Purchase footwear that is the correct shape/style for you feet. The sales assistant should be trained to advise you on this.
✓Warm up before you run and cool down afterwards.
✓Do not push yourself too hard, too fast. It is better to advance slowly and injury-free.