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Run, Do Not Walk, to EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region for Expert Sports Medicine Care

Professional and recreational athletes may play different sports that require different skill sets, but they all require one similar factor: endurance.

And, what is one of the best exercises to train and build endurance? Running.

Running is one of America’s most popular forms of exercise, with 18.1 million Americans registering for road races in 2018.

While running is a simple form of fitness, it still puts a ton of stress on various joints in the body. Common running injuries can occur anywhere on the body, including the hip, knee, leg, ankle, foot, and even spine.

Evidence suggests that 40% to 50% of runners experience injuries yearly.

In an effort to decrease running injuries, the Sports Medicine Specialists at EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region have compiled a list of common endurance running injuries to help educate and prevent running injuries. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians have worked extensively with a number of professional and recreational athletes, allowing them to gain an expert-level understanding of the injuries, treatments, and prevention techniques surrounding endurance running.

Six Common Endurance Running Injuries

Although there are various injuries that can be sustained associated with endurance running, we are going to take an in-depth look at the six most common, which include:

1. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

What It Is

Also known as “runner’s knee” or “jumper’s knee,” this is a broad term used to describe pain in the patella (kneecap). It is commonly found in athletes (particularly women and young adults), but it can also occur in nonathletes as well. The condition occurs when nerves sense pain in the soft tissues and bone surrounding the kneecap.

Causes

There are two common causes of patellofemoral pain syndrome:

  • Overuse
    Activities that put chronic stress on the knee (such as running)
  • Patellar Malalignment
    Abnormal tracking of the kneecap in the trochlear groove

Symptoms

  • Dull, aching pain surrounding the kneecap
  • Emphasized pain with knee movement
  • Sounds of popping and/or cracking with knee movement
2. Iliotibial (IT) Band Friction Syndrome

What It Is

This is an overuse injury of the connective tissues located on the outer thigh and knee. The IT Band is a thick band of tissue that starts in the hip, runs down the outer thigh, crosses over the knee, and attaches to the shin. In a healthy knee, the IT band glides across the knee with no pain because of a sac or bursa.

If the sac or bursa is not working properly, the IT band will rub against the bone of the knee joint, causing pain and inflammation.

Causes

As stated above, IT band friction syndrome is an overuse injury commonly found in long-distance runners. The risk of IT band friction syndrome increases in athletes who use poor form, have limited flexibility, or have mechanical imbalances in the body.

Symptoms

  • Lateral knee pain
  • Inflammation
  • Sensation of tingling (pins and needles)
  • Sound of snapping or popping in the knee
3. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

What It Is

Also known as “shin splints,” medial tibial stress syndrome is the inflammation of the tendons, muscles, and bone tissue surrounding the tibia (shinbone).

Causes

This is another overuse injury typically found in endurance runners. The risk for medial tibial stress syndrome increases in those with poor exercise form, improper equipment, flat feet, or abnormally rigid foot arches.

Symptoms

Sharp and/or dull pain along the inner edge of the tibia, which can be exacerbated by stress, exercise, or direct contact.

4. Achilles Tendinopathy

What It Is

Also known as “Achilles tendinitis,” Achilles tendinopathy is the irritation and inflammation of the Achilles tendon that runs down the back of the lower leg.

Noninsertional Achilles tendinopathy is when the fibers in the middle portion of the tendon have begun to degenerate.

Insertional Achilles tendinopathy is when the fibers in the lower portion of the tendon (where the tendon attaches to the heel bone) have begun to degenerate.

Causes

Like the above injuries, this condition is also typically attributed to overuse. Tight calf muscles and bone spurs can also increase the probability of Achilles tendinopathy.

Symptoms

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Tendon thickening
  • Bone spurs
  • Tendon swelling
5. Plantar Fasciitis

What It Is

Plantar fasciitis is the irritation and inflammation of the plantar fascia (the strong band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot).

Cause

Plantar fasciitis is caused when there is too much pressure on the plantar fascia, typically caused by overuse. Tight calf muscles, obesity, and high-foot arches can all increase the risk of plantar fasciitis developing.

Symptoms

It is the most common cause of pain on the bottom of the heel.

6. Lower Extremity Stress Fractures

What It Is

Tiny cracks that occur in the bones of the lower legs or feet.

Cause

Lower extremity stress fractures are considered overuse injuries that are caused by repetitive stress.

Symptoms

  • Pain (usually with activity)
  • Swelling

Treatment for Common Running Injuries

The above overuse injuries can typically be successfully treated with one or more of the following nonsurgical treatment techniques (which can also serve as general prevention techniques):

  • Activity/Lifestyle Modifications
    Cease activities that cause pain, or modify them to ease stress on the problematic areas. Begin to move towards participating in low-impact forms of exercise, such as swimming and biking. Weight loss will also ease strain on the joints of the body.
  • R.I.C.E. Method
    Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.) typically works well for relieving pain.
  • NSAIDs
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help relieve swelling and pain.
  • Physical Therapy
    A professional physical therapy plan designed by a licensed therapist can help prevent and treat injuries by strengthening, lengthening, and encouraging flexibility in the muscles supporting the injury.

Surgical intervention is rarely required for the injuries listed above.

Run Like the Wind with EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region

Using the right techniques and prevention measures can greatly reduce the risk of common running injuries. However, if an injury is sustained, you can trust the EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region Sports Medicine Specialists to get you back on your feet—as quickly and safely as possible.

To learn more, schedule an appointment now. Or, call us any time at 984.279.3662.

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