Running is one of the most effective ways to stay fit and healthy, which explains why 50 million people in the United States called themselves runners in 2020.
As sports medicine specialists, the team here at Western Orthopaedics endorses running as a way to stay one step ahead of your health, but with a note of caution: Running can increase your risks for injury.
In the following, we explore the top-five running injuries and how we can help you get back to the track, trails, treadmill, or wherever else you like to air it out.
1. Runner’s knee
Your knees are the largest joints in your body, which is a good thing since they’re responsible for much of your mobility. One of the primary complaints we see among runners is a condition called runner’s knee. This condition manifests itself as pain and tenderness around and/or under your kneecap.
There are several potential causes of runner’s knee, including:
- An imbalance in your quadriceps
- Foot issues, such as flat feet
- Breakdown of cartilage in your knee
- Poor alignment in the bones in your legs
If we find that you have runner’s knee, we typically turn to rest, anti-inflammatory measures, physical therapy, orthotics, and regenerative medicine to help heal your knee. If the damage is great in your joint, you may need partial or total knee replacement.
2. Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome
Your ITB is a thick band of tissue that stretches from your hip to just below your knee. When you have ITB syndrome, you typically feel pain on the outside of your knee, though it can extend up toward your hip.
ITB syndrome can be caused by anatomical issues, such as weak hip abductor and hip extensor muscles, a tight iliotibial band, or flatfoot. As well, it can occur due to running on uneven surfaces and using worn-out running shoes.
To treat ITB syndrome, we typically recommend anti-inflammatory medications, rest, physical therapy, orthotics, and some tweaks in your running routine, which we can discuss with you.
3. Plantar fasciitis
Your plantar fascia is a tight tissue that runs along the bottom of your feet to support the arches in your feet. If you overstress these tissues, they can develop inflammation, which leads to pain when you take your first steps after periods of inactivity (such as when you get out of bed).
To treat plantar fasciitis, we recommend stretching exercises that will help prevent tightening in this tissue.
4. Shin splints
If you feel pain along your shins when you run, it’s likely that you have shin splints. This overuse injury is typically a sign that you’re pushing too hard or too long. To treat shin splints, we usually recommend easing back on your running for a bit and taking anti-inflammatory medications. In most cases, shin splints go away with a little bit of rest.
5. Stress fractures
As the name suggests, stress fractures are small breaks in your bones that result from the concussion that comes with running. Stress fractures can develop in your feet (the metatarsals) or in your shinbone.
It’s very important to have us treat stress fractures early on, as these breaks can grow larger. In their early stages, we will likely immobilize the area to allow time for your bones to knit back together.
Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of the ways you can incur damage while running. Rest assured, we’re here to help you recover from your running injuries so you can continue to be active.
For expert treatment of sports injuries of any kind, contact one of our offices in Denver or Arvada, Colorado, to set up an appointment.