We’re continuing our celebration of Sisterhood Running Month and our “How To” series with a post on the most common running injuries.
Running injuries are something lots of us here at the Sisterhood have dealt with as we’ve trained for the San Diego Rock ‘N Roll 1/2 marathon, and while we’re not medical experts, we have become somewhat experts on the injuries with which we’ve been plagued.
I’d like to point out that most of these injuries are completely avoidable if you follow a training plan, make sure you have the right shoes (shoes that are not worn out), and don’t try to do too much too soon. By saying “too much, too soon” we mean increasing your distance and pace too rapidly.
Here are a few of the most common running injuries:
- Shin pain – Shin pain is not limited to shin splits, although this is one of the most common injuries new runners face. Pain is felt in the lower 1/3 of the shin toward the inside, and is commonly caused by increasing speed and distance to quickly, poorly cushioned shoes, running on an uneven or too hard surface, or hilly terrain. At the first sign of shin splints, you should back off of your mileage, and rub ice directly on the area. To avoid making shin splints worse, take a few days off from running, continue to ice, and make sure you’re calf muscles are properly stretched. You can continue to run with shin splints, but you’ll want to make sure to stay below the threshold of irritation by taking frequent walk breaks and running on a softer surface like grass, a track, or a dirt path. You’ll also want to take a look at your shoes and make sure you’ve got a proper fit and enough cushioning. You can use a rolling pin (yes, that thing you use to make cookies!) to roll your shins out – a painful but effective form of self-massage. If the pain does not get better, or if it gets worse, it’s always advisable to head to the doctor to rule out a stress fracture.A high percentage of new runners have shin pain, and most can train through the injury. High arches, tight calves, high body mass, and too much supination can predispose people to this injury. If the pain becomes intense, stop training, although in most cases shin pain allows for continued training at a slower pace and lower mileage runs.
- IT band syndrome – This injury initially crops up as pain on the outside of the knee, so it’s a little confusing when you realize that it’s not a knee injury at all. The IT band starts as a muscle in the hip and as it moves down toward the shin it’s a connective tissue whose job is to stabilize the knee. The reason pain is felt on the outside of the knee is because when the hip muscles are weak, the band snaps back and forth across the bony knob on the outside of the knee causing inflammation and pain. Once injured, the IT band often beings hurting gradually during workouts. Only more advance cases hurt from the start. If not treated properly from the beginning, IT band syndrome can take you of the road for up to a year.Because IT band syndrome starts out as a mild pain, many runners push through the pain and end up doing more damage. If you start having pain on the outside of your knee during a run STOP. Massaging the entire IT band using a foam roller (which hurts so bad it will make you cry, but it works. Trust!) and stretches that target the area can help with a faster recovery, getting you back to running sooner. Once you start running again, incorporating walk breaks is a must. More than likely, you’ll be walking with “run-breaks” for awhile. Plan to use your foam roller for 5 minutes before your run, 5 minutes after your run, and again for 5 minutes before you hit the sack. Keep in mind that if you have any IT band pain, you should stop running and start rolling.
Check out Part 2 of our Common Running Injuries Series for more on running injuries, when we’ll be focusing on Plantar Fasciitis and Runner’s Knee.
- Running Injuries, Treatment and Prevention by Jeff Galloway & David Hannaford DPM
- Running-Advice.com – Training: what are the most common running injuries?, Coach Joe English (our Team in Training Coach)