In an ideal runner’s world, every step of every mile would be 100 percent pain-free. No aches, no twinges, no lingering soreness from yesterday’s workout. Unfortunately, if you’re a runner, the odds are not particularly in your favor: Every year, as many as 80 percent of runners get injured. The reality is that many runners constantly deal with a slight (or not so slight) disturbance—a tender foot, a tight hamstring, or an irritated knee.
While these nagging issues often aren’t serious enough to require a time-out, they are annoying, especially when they don’t let you fully enjoy your time on the roads.
There are a lot of ways you can sprain, strain, tweak, and tear yourself when you run, but below, are the three most common overuse injuries seen in runners, and how they should typically be treated. These types of injuries occur when you train too hard too fast and your body doesn’t have time to adapt. Most of them start out minor, but will get worse if you keep pushing too hard.
The swelling of the Achilles, the tissues that connect your heel to your lower-leg muscles, can be caused by many factors: rapid mileage increase, improper footwear, tight calf muscles or even having a naturally flat foot.
To help sidestep pesky pain, make sure to always stretch the calf muscles post-workout and wear supportive shoes. Also, try and limit hill climbing throughout your training, especially since this puts extra stress on tendons. Anti-inflammatories, stretching, and the RICE strategy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) are the quickest ways to get back on the path to recovery.
Plantar fasciitis, small tears or inflammation of the tendons and ligaments that run from your heel to your toes, is usually the top foot complaint among runners. The pain, which typically feels like a dull ache or bruise along your arch or on the bottom of your heel, is usually worse first thing in the morning.
To soothe your soles, wear shoes with extra cushion, stretch your heels and get ample rest to help dull the pain. If the problem persists, you might want to speak to your podiatrist about custom-made orthotics, a night splint, or in some cases, amniotic stem cell and Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy to speed up recovery and keep on running.
A sprain occurs when the ankle rolls in or outward, stretching the ligament and causing pain. Curbs, potholes, tree branches or just an unfortunate landing are just a few of the culprits. Recovery may be a shaky at first, but many experts suggest doing balance exercises to strengthen the muscles around the ankle. Be sure to stick to some solid rest after the sprain occurs—how long depends on the sprain’s severity and your doctor’s recommendation.
Keep in mind that these are not the only foot ailments caused by running, and when at-home foot care isn’t effective, you need specialized care that only an experienced podiatrist can offer. But here’s the good news: Most running injuries can be avoided. In fact, running injuries are often easier to prevent than to cure.
To minimize the aches and pains, consider these general tips to stay on the safe side:
· Warm up and cool down.
Remember to warm up and cool down to ease your body in and out of a workout and help keep injuries at bay.
Stick to the 10 percent rule.
Don’t increase mileage by more than 10 percent each week.
· Keep it even.
Avoid running on uneven surfaces that put unnecessary stress on your ligaments. While off-roading is a fun change of pace for most runners, rough terrain may make it easier to twist an ankle.
· Replace your sneakers.
Keep track of how many miles your shoes have logged, and replace them every 600 miles, if not sooner.
· Add in strength training.
Strength training can increase core fitness, which helps bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles endure all that pounding.
· Fix your form.
Not only will poor form hinder performance, it could lead to unnecessary pain. Make sure to use correct running technique to prevent injuries.
· Know your limits.
Overtraining can cause overuse injuries. Make sure to take at least one day off per week, and mix up long runs with easier recovery runs. Don’t forget to pencil in regular rest days, too. You (and your feet) deserve it!
If you experience chronic foot pain from running, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Leaving foot injuries untreated could result in more serious conditions, ultimately keeping you from your best performance.
Keep in mind that these are not the only foot ailments caused by running, and when at-home foot care isn’t effective, you need specialized care that only an experienced podiatrist can offer.
At the office of Dr. Richard Hochman, a recognized expert in the care of chronic foot and ankle ailments, will evaluate your needs and develop an individualized care plan to deliver high quality clinical outcomes. Non-invasive treatment options offered in our office, and close to home, include platelet-rich plasma or amniotic stem cell injections either on a stand-alone basis or can be combined with other treatments for optimal results.
If you are suffering from any sort of running injury, please contact our office at (305) 442-1780 to discuss your options.