We are not telling you anything new if we tell you that running may causes injuries. Also, if you are not careful, there are quite a few that may appear.
Therefore, it is important to work on race technique, strengthening the whole body, not training “above our abilities”, etc.
In this post we will see what are the most common injuries among those who run and how we can prevent or treat them.
Patellar tendinitis (jumper’s knee)
One of the most common injuries (and which yours truly suffers from).
It is an inflammation of the patellar tendon, the tissue that joins the patella to the tibia. It occurs mainly due to overloading, repeated movements that end up causing irritation or damage. Due to the rebound that occurs when we run (and to a greater extent when jumping, hence the alternative name) the tendon ends up suffering and can lead to injury.
Although at first it only causes discomfort and does not become painful, it can end up getting worse over time if the right measures are not taken.
- Discomfort or pain below the kneecap when we run
- Pain when flexing the knee (while stretching, for example)
- Daily stretching of the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles
- Shorten your stride
- Do not land with the leg completely straight or close to 180º
- Strengthening the lower body, especially quadriceps and hamstrings
- Avoid running on negative slopes
- Temporarily replace running on foot by bicycle or elliptical
- Reduction of weekly mileage if the condition is not very serious
- Ice placement on the knee to relieve pain and inflammation (post-training)
- Consider the use of a infrapatellar band or Chopat band
- Muscle strengthening (quadriceps and hamstrings) with exercises that do not cause rebound
- Surgery (only if the patellar tendon is severely damaged and obviously under medical prescription)
While patellar tendonitis can lead to normal life while not in a very advanced state, Achilles tendonitis can affect daily life.
The Achilles tendon is the one that connects the two large muscles from the back of the leg to the heel. If it becomes inflamed, we are facing Achilles tendinitis.
It usually occurs with high training volumes, if there is a lack of flexibility in the calves and soleus, if you usually run on hard surfaces or if skipping is part of the daily training (yes, running makes mini jumps).
- Discomfort or pain above the heel and lower leg, especially while running or after running
- Crunch or click sound when moving the ankle
- Strengthening the lower body, especially calves and soleus
- Increase the training load gradually
- Daily stretching of calves and soleus
- Always warm up before you start running
- Avoid running on hard surfaces regularly: asphalt and cement
- Avoid the use of high heels in women (or men …) and that of beach flip flops or sandals
- Temporarily replace running on foot by bicycle, elliptical or any other sport that does not involve running, jumping or sudden braking
- Apply ice on the tendon to relieve pain and inflammation
- Intensive daily stretching of the area
- Do strengthening exercises for the soleus and calves
- Review the running technique and the landing of the foot
- Surgery, if the injury is in an advanced state and if you have a medical prescription.
Fibrillar rupture in the hamstrings
The hamstring muscles are those found in the back of the leg, from the thigh to the knee: the biceps femoris, the semi-tendinous and the semi-membranous.
A hamstring strain is usually just a pull, which happens when the muscles stretch too much and begin to tear. They are usually minor injuries and only a short recovery period is needed.
However, when the rupture occurs, surgery may be required.
- Pain in the back of the leg, either when flexing or extending it
- Swelling or bruising
- Always warm up before training, especially in split training (series days)
- Conscious stretching of the hamstrings at the end of training and slightly before the same
- Avoid a sudden increase in training load
- Strengthen the hamstring muscles with exercises, either with rubber bands or in the gym. If not, there is an imbalance between the size of these and the quadriceps.
- Improve running technique
- Go to a doctor or physiotherapist to know the severity of the tear
- Stop any sports activity and apply ice in the area
- Continuous massage by a physiotherapist, checking that the healing process is on the right track
- The recovery time depends on the degree of the tear, but you have to be patient
- After a while, eccentric muscle strengthening exercises
On the sole of the foot there is a thick band of tissue called the plantar fascia. It really is a tendon that connects the calcaneus (the heel bone) with the anterior part of the foot.
If the fascia is irritated, just treading will hurt the sole of the foot. This condition is called plantar fasciitis.
The pain occurs near the heel and not only affects people who run or do sports that require jumping, but also people who are overweight, pregnant women or people who work long hours on their feet.
Improper footwear is usually one of the main causes of fasciitis. It also develops if the training load is suddenly raised. Runners with flat feet or high arched feet are more likely to suffer it, as well as those who are overweight.
- Pain after spending a lot of time standing or after exercising
- It hurts especially when stretching or flexing the foot
- Always use the proper running shoe and size. Runnics can help you with that with our Perfect Match tool
- If your weight is very high, it is better to walk and, when the weight has been reduced, start running
- Stretching of feet and calves after training
- Strengthening and stimulation of the plantar fascia with specific exercises
- Absolute rest. Rest the feet for a while to avoid aggravation
- Apply ice to the sole of the foot to reduce pain and inflammation
- Strengthening the plantar fascia and calves with exercises
- Surgery if the degree of the injury is high
The famous “shin splints” or tibial periostitis, is one of the most common injuries among runners.
It consists of the inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia, that is to say, the outer membrane that covers the bones.
It usually appears when the training load is sharply increased, you change your shoes or training ground to a harder one than usual.
- Pain in the inside of the tibia, between the knee and the ankle.
- “Pellets” inflamed along the tibia (periosteal rosary)
- Avoid hard surfaces such as asphalt and cement
- Increase the volume of training gradually
- Calf and soleus stretches after each workout
- Study of the tread by a podiatrist for the correct choice of shoes
- Strengthening the anterior tibial muscle
- Apply ice in the area after training
- If the pain persists, stop running
- Go to a physiotherapist to assess the degree of the injury
- General strengthening of the lower body
Iliotibial band syndrome (runner’s knee)
It is another of the most common injuries among runners, especially long distance. It is characterized by the intense and sharp pain of the external lateral aspect of the knee, although it can also generate pains in the thigh, even in the hip.
The injury begins gradually, limiting at the beginning the race time. The pain starts at 10 or 15 minutes of starting to run and, from there, does not improve, and makes you stop before you finish the training you had planned.
It hurts more when the training is downhill or the pace is low, since the contact time of friction between the tendon of the iliotibial band and the external epicondyle of the femur is greater.
- Pain in the external lateral aspect of the knee
- Appearance of pain after 10-15 minutes of training
- Gradual increase of training load
- Avoid slopes, especially negative slopes
- Strengthening of the lower train, especially the hip abduction muscles (gluteus medius and tensor of the fascia lata)
- If you run regularly on a running track, change the direction of travel after a few laps
- Shorten the stride and improve the running technique
- Stop running. You cannot cycle, elliptical or swim
- Revise the tread and assess the need to use insoles to correct pronation or dissymmetry, if they exist
- Muscle strengthening of the lower body
- Possibility of taking anti-inflammatory medications recommended by the doctor
- Cryotherapy sessions
- The treatment should be continued until the total discomfort disappears
- Return to the running gradually, with interval training at the beginning and, finally, long runs
Stress fracture of the metatarsals
It is one of the worst injuries that a runner can suffer, since it will leave us in the dry dock for a season.
The metatarsal stress fracture is caused by the continued impact of the foot against the ground or by excessive friction over time.
- Pain in the front of the foot as soon as you start to run
- Pain in the instep area, including swelling
- Avoid a sudden increase in training load
- Cushioned shoe if you have not acquired the right tread technique
- Warm up before training
- Completely stop sports activity. The bone has micro-fractures and, if we keep running, it will end up fracturing completely
- Absolute rest for 6 to 7 weeks. Try to walk as little as possible
- Go to a doctor to assess the state of the fracture
- Surgery (if the fracture has completely occurred)
Chondropathy / Chondromalacia patella
The patellar cartilage, which is several millimeters thick, is responsible for a better sliding of the patella with respect to the femur.
Chondropathy (etymologically “cartilage disease”) or chondromalacia (disused in the medical environment, “softening of the cartilage”) patellae, is produced by trauma, instability or patellar dislocations, muscle weakness or by changes in the patellar position with respect to the femur.
- Pain in the patellar tendon, similar to that of tendonitis
- Gradual increase of training load
- Appropriate shoes
- Running technique exercises and tread review
- Rehabilitation of the strength and balance of the different muscle groups that act on the knee
- Training program supervised by a physiotherapist
- If the pain persists, infiltrations
- Surgery in advanced cartilage injuries
As you can see, the prevention of all of them seems to have a common denominator: doing things carefully and without abruptness.
The body is wise and needs a period of adaptation for everything, for the training volume too. It is necessary to progress little by little, warm up and stretch consciously, strengthen the muscles as we move forward and choose the right footwear for our characteristics.