5 Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

With the rise in popularity of half marathons, running has seen a boom in the past decade or so. With that increase in those of us regular folk who regularly train to compete in long distance races like the half marathon, marathon and ultra distances, running injuries are bound to happen. It is inevitable that every runner or athlete will develop an injury at some point and the majority are overuse injuries. 

running acupuncture midlothian va

Mistake #1: The common thread that I see is not having a comprehensive strengthening program. With runners (or cyclists/hikers/etc), all the motion is forward so our side to side movement muscles get weak and lead us to imbalances. Most of the problems I describe below can be prevented with regular work of strengthening the core and gluts and incorporating lunges/squats/planks etc, and making sure to stretch after exercise.

Mistake #2: The second is increasing too many things at once. For example, starting a new speedwork program, while also training for long distances and ramping up mileage each week. Or doing a bunch of hillwork that is new to you. Or even increasing mileage too quickly without giving your body time to adjust and adapt to the new stress.

So without further ado, here's a quick and dirty list of the top 5 injuries I see in runners:

(Note: these are quick summaries and don't take into account individual factors or biomechanics that may be affecting the issue)

1. Runner's Knee AKA patellofemoral syndrome-pain at top of knee or around kneecap, may feel full or pressure behind kneecap. You see pain during exercises that repeatedly use the knee such as climbing stairs, running, jumping, squatting. Or pain after sitting for a long time with knees bent such as at the movies or on an airplane. Popping or cracking may be present. Treatment is to ease up on activities that stress the knee while you strengthen/stretch the quadriceps as it is the main knee stabilizer, as well as other hip muscles.

2. Iliotibial band syndrome- pain at the outside of the knee where the IT Band attaches to and rubs against the bone, worse with running downhill. Treatment is aimed at decreasing the inflammation at the site of pain as well as correcting any muscular imbalances at the hip (seeing a pattern here??) that may be contributing to strain.

3. Achilles Tendonitis-pain at the achilles tendon at the back of the heel or further up the calf. Treatment focuses on relaxing the calves so there is less pull on the tendon as it attaches to the foot.

4. Plantar Fasciitis--pain at the bottom of the foot, usually worse in the morning when your foot is stiff. Pain often goes away with exercise, but returns, and it can be a nagging chronic problem. Treatment can be difficult so you need to start action quickly-loosening the calf muscles, giving support to the arch of the foot, and strengthening the leg/foot muscles can help.

5. Hamstring Pain-pain in back of thigh or in the butt if a high hamstring tendinitis. This is usually from a tight hamstring, and underdeveloped gluts and quadriceps. Again strengthening the hips will help. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from any running related injury, let them know that acupuncture can help. Many times we can modify your activity so that you aren't having to completely take time off while you heal.

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