Continuing on with the runner series and following up from the previous message – running is NOT bad for your knees. To be clear, we understand that there is inherent risk with all activities, and running is no different. And although running can be very beneficial, it can provide us with some aches & pains as well. The purpose of this message is to very briefly highlight the most common injuries we see with runners. In upcoming posts, we’ll dig into the nitty gritty for each condition, along with strategies to best prevent and manage.

We also want to take a moment to say that if you experience one or some of these conditions, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run. It just means that you took your body through more than it was ready for at that time. These “overuse injuries” occur when the demand placed on the tissue exceeds the capacity of the tissue. It could be due to a variety of factors….

  • Excessive training volume or tempo
  • Not enough strength or endurance 
  • Inadequate recovery between runs
  • Improper body mechanics 
  • Poor nutrition
  • Reduced sleep  

Plantar Fasciitis: This is the pain felt in the bottom of the foot, commonly near the front of the heel. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot & is designed to provide support and protect the inner foot muscles. This condition is caused by overstraining of that tissue. Ankle mobility and footwear can play a role in this. 

Shin Splints: This is the pain felt in the front or side of the lower leg. This occurs by overuse of particular lower leg muscles that attach to the tibia. The excessive strain typically is a result of improper running form. 

IT Band Syndrome: IT band syndrome is a common injury caused by inflammation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh. It is often caused by overuse or poor running form. The best way to prevent IT band syndrome is by incorporating strength training exercises to strengthen the hip and glute muscles.

Runner’s Knee: Runner’s knee is a “catch all” phrase that doesn’t specify a particular tissue. Typically it’s pain that is felt around the knee cap, aka patella. Sometimes there’s involvement with muscles/tendons & sometimes it’s more of a structural control issue. Determining what root cause of what’s feeding into this irritability of the patella & surrounding tissue is key in overcoming this condition.

Achilles Tendinitis: Many of you are aware that the achilles tendon is the long and thick tendon that runs behind your ankle, connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. Its function with flexing the ankle is critical for walking, running, and jumping. Lack of mobility or improper running mechanics could play a role in this condition.

In conclusion, running is a great form of exercise. Just like any activity, there are associated risks. The main rule of thumb to consider for avoiding these conditions is to make sure you gradually increase your mileage, wear proper shoes, and maintain proper running form. 

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