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Common running injuries and how to avoid them

Running injuries often happen when a person pushes themselves too hard. This could be trying to achieve a new best time, or tackling a new distance or route.

Running injuries are also common for beginners, and repeat injuries can happen after recovering from an injury.

Here are 10 common running injuries:

Runner's knee

This is a common overuse injury. Runner's knee has several different causes. But it's commonly due to the kneecap being out of alignment.

Over time, the cartilage on the kneecap can wear down. Vigorous activity leads to pain around the kneecap, particularly when:

  • Going up or down stairs
  • Squatting
  • Sitting with the knee bent for a long time.

Stress fracture

This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. It typically affects runners in the shin and feet. It is often due to working too hard before your body gets used to a new activity.

Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest. Rest is important, as continued stress on the bone can lead to more serious injury.

Shin splint

A pain that occurs in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints commonly occur after a change in activity, such as running longer distances or increasing too quickly the number of days you run.

People with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.

Treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Stretching exercises
  • Slow return to activity after several weeks of healing.

Achilles tendinitis

This is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. That's the large tendon that attaches the calf to the back of the heel.

Achilles tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon, often due to increasing running distance too quickly. Tight calf muscles can also contribute.

Treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Icing the area
  • Calf stretches.

Muscle pull

A small tear in your muscle, also called a muscle strain, often caused by overstretching of a muscle. If you suffer a pulled muscle, you may feel a popping sensation when the muscle tears.

Treatment includes RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Muscle pull commonly affects these muscles:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quadriceps
  • Calf
  • Groin.

Ankle sprain

This is the stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle. It often occurs when the foot twists or rolls inward. Sprains typically get better with rest, ice, compression and elevating the foot.

Plantar fasciitis

An inflammation of the plantar fascia. That's the thick band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes.

People with tight calf muscles and a high arch are more prone to plantar fasciitis. Although it may be linked to an increase in activity, plantar fasciitis may occur without any identifiable reason.

Treatment includes:

  • Calf stretches
  • Rest
  • Icing the bottom of the foot.
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WebMD Medical Reference

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