If you’re a beginner runner, it’s important to be aware of the common injuries that can occur during training. In this blog post, we will cover the most common beginner running injuries – from runner’s knee to IT band syndrome. We will also try and cover ways to prevent and recover.
1. Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common running injury that is characterised by a dull, achy pain underneath the kneecap. This type of pain can occur during a run or after a hard workout, and it may worsen with activity or in the evening. Symptoms of runner’s knee may include grinding pain, pain at the beginning of a run that subsides and then returns when the running stops. Other symptoms may include inflammation of the kneecap, limited mobility of the knee, and swelling over the kneecap area. Causes of runner’s knee include overuse injuries and high-impact sports such as running and jumping. Preventing runner’s knee may involve strengthening the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, as well as stretching the quadriceps and calves. In addition to a healthy diet and regular physical activity, it’s important to seek professional treatment if you experience persistent pain or discomfort in your knee.
2. Shin Splints
Shin splints, another common running injury occurs when the shinbone (tibia) becomes inflamed and painful from overuse or a minor stress fracture. This inflammation of the shinbone can occur with running long distances or doing high-impact exercises or sports. Symptoms of shin splints include dull or sharp pain in the lower leg, tenderness to the touch, and mild swelling. Shin splints are commonly a result of running too hard or sprinting, so it’s a good idea to ease back into running slowly after a hard workout. Shin splint treatment usually involves rest and gradual re-introduction of activity over a period of weeks, but it can vary based on the severity of the injury. As with any other injury, please seek professional guidance if the condition persists.
3. Plantar Fasciitis
This running injury is due to an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue running along the bottom of the foot and connecting the heel bone to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is now considered a degenerative disease characterised by intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors. The common culprits of plantar fasciitis include drastic increases in mileage, tight calf muscles, inadequate stretching, poor footwear, and strength imbalances. It can also be a result of overuse injuries such as shin splints and hamstring strains. When seeking treatment for plantar fasciitis, it’s important to identify the root cause of the injury and treat it accordingly. This will help prevent future bouts of plantar fasciitis from occurring.
4. Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis is characterised by pain and inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. In Achilles tendinitis, the calf muscle becomes overworked and tight. This can lead to inflammation and pain. There are two types of Achilles tendinitis called non-insertional type and insertional type. Non-insertional tendinitis occurs when the calf muscle becomes overuse or overuse injuries occurs in the tendon. Insertional tendinitis occurs when a sharp object such as a splint or a needle injures the tendon. The common causes of Achilles tendinitis include not stretching the calf muscles out enough before exercise, running too far too soon, overworking the calf, wearing inappropriate shoes, and running on hard surfaces. Treatment for Achilles tendinitis includes self-care, modified rest, pain relief medication, physiotherapy, and reducing inflammation. The most common self care measures include applying ice packs to the area and taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or NSAIDs (Please consult a medical practitioner before administering any medicine). Stretching the calf muscles should be done gradually with a stretching device or therapist’s help. You can also modify your running routine to make it less stressful on your calf.
5. IT Band Syndrome
IT band syndrome is caused by weak gluteus muscles and the wider hips of women, causing the knee to bear more of the impact of running. – Symptoms include a sharp pain on the outside of the leg, usually just above the knee. – Treatment and prevention of IT band syndrome include strengthening glutes, abdominals, and hips to take the strain off of the IT band. Research-backed treatments for IT band syndrome include stretches and preventive exercises, such as squats and quadriceps stretching. These common injuries can be prevented with a healthy running routine and a focus on stretching before running. – If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately to prevent further injury and reduce pain.
6. Hamstring Injuries
Hamstring injuries are common in runners and can occur with repetitive small tears in the hamstring fibers and connective tissue. Symptoms of a hamstring injury may include dull pain, tenderness to the touch, and weak or stiff hamstrings. Muscle injuries in runners commonly manifest as muscle strains and tears, which occur when muscle fibers are stretched beyond their limits or contract too quickly. Strains and tears can happen when running hills or sprinting too hard, but they can also be caused by overuse injuries of the hamstring muscles, such as a pull of the hamstring or a tear in the hamstring tendon. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help treat a hamstring strain or tear and guard against future injuries. These treatments should be applied if a strain is felt, as they can reduce inflammation and pain and help the hamstring heal faster.
7. Ankle Sprain
Ankle sprains are the most common running injuries among athletes. They occur when the ligaments at the ankle are overstretched or overstressed, and this can cause a painful sprain. Ankle sprains are most common in sports such as running and walking, but they can also happen in other activities such as soccer or basketball. These injuries can be caused by turning the ankle while running or walking. In some cases, a sprain may occur when a runner lands incorrectly after a jump or fall. Sprains can be painful and may result in a limp or a limited ability to walk without assistance. To prevent ankle injuries, it is important to warm up properly before starting a run and stretch your calf muscles before stretching your hamstring muscles. Also, it is best to wear running shoes that provide appropriate support and cushioning for your ankle injury. This will help reduce stress on the ligaments of the foot and leg. When you have an ankle injury, it is important to ice the area immediately and use pain medication as directed by a medical professional.
8. Stress Fractures
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone. These are often cause by repetitive force, often from overuse — such as jumping up and down or running long distances. Stress fractures can also develop from normal use of a bone that’s weakened by osteoporosis.
Stress fractures are common in the weight-bearing bones of the foot and lower leg. Runners and military recruits who carry heavy packs over long distances are at highest risk, but anyone can sustain a stress fracture. If you start a new exercise program, for example, you might develop stress fractures if you do too much too soon.
Another common cause of a stress fracture is nutritional factors. If a beginner does not get enough calories to fuel activity or does not get the right balance of calories, it could lead to a stress fracture. Another common cause of stress fractures in beginners is relative energy deficiency (RED-S). In this scenario, the beginner may be training too hard and not allowing the body sufficient time to recover between workouts. As a result, they may experience a stress fracture while trying to recover from their previous workout.
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Frequently Asked Questions Linked to Runner’s Injuries
Is it safe to run barefoot or in minimalist shoes?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as the risks associated with running barefoot or in minimalist shoes vary depending on the individual. Some people believe that running barefoot or in minimalist shoes is safe, healthy (and recommended to be added to the running regime), while others are concerned about the potential health risks associated with these types of footwear. It is important to consult with a medical professional if you are unsure about the safety of running barefoot or in minimalist shoes.
Should I use an anti-chafing cream when running?
Chafing can be a bothersome problem when running, as it can cause discomfort, inflammation and can lead to bleeding. To reduce the risk of chafing, it is important to apply an anti-chafing cream before beginning your run. This cream will help to prevent the skin from becoming dry and irritated, and it will also help to prevent clothing from rubbing against the skin. It is also important to wear comfortable clothing that allows freedom of movement, as tight clothing can increase the risk of chafing. If you experience any irritation or discomfort while running, please consult a doctor or sports medicine specialist for advice on how to address the issue.
What type of shoes should I wear for running and how often should I change them?
Runners generally wear shoes that provide good traction and stability on the ground, which is why running shoes are typically made of rubber or some other type of durable material. It is important to replace running shoes regularly because they will wear down over time and may become less stable. It is also important to keep in mind that different types of running shoes are designed for different types of running, so it is important to find a pair of shoes that fit your specific needs. For example, distance runners may prefer shoes with a wider toe area to help with pronation (a condition in which the foot rolls inward during walking and running), while sprinters may prefer shoes with a low heel-to-toe drop to improve speed and efficiency.
Running is a great way to stay healthy and fit. However, it’s always important to be aware of common beginner running injuries so you can recover as quickly as possible. If you have any specific running injuries related question, please leave them in the comments section and we’ll try and answer as soon as possible.