Running injuries are more common than you might think. According to research, there are upwards of 40 million runners in the United States. Given the sheer volume of people who run, it makes sense that running injuries are very common. In fact, there are several running injuries for which runners should be wary.
Whether you run for pleasure, competitively, or other reasons, EmergeOrtho – Triangle Region offers cutting-edge orthopedic care you can count on. Our highly-trained subspecialists are experienced and knowledgeable in the latest approaches in Sports Medicine injuries—including running-related injuries. No matter what injury our patients experience, we provide the personalized, affordable care needed to get back into their running shoes—safely and effectively.
Five Causes and Symptoms of Common Running Injuries
When discussing why running injuries are so prevalent, it’s important to consider the parts of the body used in running. When an individual runs, the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and bones of the lower back, hips, legs, knees, ankles, and feet are all engaged, which also means they are at greater risk of injury.
According to one study, 80% of all running issues are the byproduct of overuse injuries, particularly to the lower back and legs. Given the highly repetitive nature of running, forces are placed on the same sets of bone, muscle, tendon, and ligament over and over each time you run. This can lead to “micro-injuries” to the tissues that accumulate faster than the body can repair them. Particularly if care is not taken to “balance out” the muscles involved via cross-training or active stretching, bone, muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries can occur.
Other causes of running injuries can include:
- The type of surface you run on (whether it’s a soft dirt trail, gravel path, asphalt road, cement sidewalk, etc.)
- How prepared you are to run (someone who attempts to run too fast or far without properly building up to do so)
- Poor shoes (running shoes should be fitted and replaced every 350 to 500 miles for best results)
While there are several ways a running injury can occur, there are also various types of running injuries that happen.
Here are the top five running injuries:
- Achilles Tendinitis
As leg injuries go, Achilles tendinitis occurs relatively frequently. It occurs when the large Achilles tendon that runs down the back of the leg becomes inflamed and irritated. Runners may experience pain that worsens when their heel strikes the ground or when they change direction. Pain that intensifies after exercise, sometimes accompanied by swelling and stiffness, is an additional indication you may have Achilles tendinitis.
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band (IT band) extends from the outside (lateral) area of the hip to the outside of the thigh, attaching to the outside of the knee. When this essential band becomes injured, symptoms can include pain on the outside of the knee or hip. The pain can feel like a burning sensation. The pain may worsen when running up or down hills and stairs and may make you stop running altogether.
- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome
More commonly known as “shin splints,” medial tibial stress syndrome causes pain and tenderness along the inner portion of the shinbone. It can also cause swelling in the lower leg. At worst, this condition can progress to become a stress fracture. This can occur if shin splints are not addressed and treated at an early stage.
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
Also referred to as “runner’s knee,” patellofemoral pain syndrome is the most common type of knee injury for runners. The condition refers to pain that is mostly isolated in the front of the knee in the kneecap area. A runner with patellofemoral pain syndrome often has pain that worsens with activity and/or prolonged periods of rest. Sometimes an audible popping or crackling sound can occur with activity (climbing stairs or standing up after sitting for a long period of time).
- Stress Fractures
Stress fractures are particularly prevalent in the foot and ankle in runners. There is a high probability of stress fractures in the second and third metatarsals of the foot because this is where runners push off while running. Pain that worsens during daily tasks and activities (like walking) can indicate the presence of a stress fracture. Sometimes runners will observe tenderness and bruising at or around the site of the fracture.
When Running Injuries Require Medical Attention
Many of our patients are curious whether or not they should come in for a visit for a running injury. If a runner experiences any of the conditions above, it is important to consult with an orthopedic expert as soon as possible. Ignoring or prolonging a medical assessment of a running injury may lead to more complex and painful symptoms or injuries.
The good news is that the injuries listed above can often be treated with non-surgical methods. Conservative methods of treatment include:
- Activity Restriction
An orthopedic specialist may recommend modification or abstinence from running and other physical activity to allow proper time for an injury to heal.
- RICE Method
RICE stands for “rest, ice, compression, and elevation,” which is particularly useful immediately following an injury, although an orthopedic physician may suggest applying the method throughout the injury recovery period.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Physical Therapy
A physical therapist can help prescribe certain exercises and stretches to help strengthen and support the area.
- Assistive Devices
Orthotic devices such as heel lifts, insoles, or arch supports may be suggested in addition to a boot or crutches depending on the type and location of the injury.
In some cases, an injury may require surgical intervention to heal safely and effectively. The best way to know for sure what treatment method is best is to schedule a consultation with an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Physician.
The EmergeOrtho Difference
Our patients need timely, efficient, and reliable service as much as they require quality orthopedic care. At EmergeOrtho – Triangle Region, we provide all of the above (and more)—at costs families can afford—without the red tape or hassle.
Let the subspecialty doctors at EmergeOrtho – Triangle Region help ensure that you can continue to enjoy the active life to which your accustomed:
- Orthopedic Urgent Care
- Elbow and Arm
- Hip and Knee
- Pediatric Orthopedics
- Back, Neck and Spine
- Foot and Ankle
- Hand and Wrist
- Joint Replacement
- Sports Medicine
If you would like to schedule a visit or know more about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of running injuries, please contact us any time at (919) 220-5255.