Common Running Injuries


We are in the middle of celebrating our self-proclaimed Sisterhood Running Month, around here at Shrinking Jeans, and it’s going wonderfully. So many women, and men, have stepped up and Run a Mile with us, and others are finally dipping their feet into the proverbial running waters. For us at the Sisterhood, it feels like a huge victory to see all of you trying your feet at running, since we are at the tail end of our 1/2 marathon training through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program. In less than 3 weeks, we will don our magic shoes and run (and walk) our hearts out for a cause so much bigger than all of us put together.

This article is part 2 of our Common Running Injuries series, and you can check out part 1 here.

As a new runner, I often thought running was nothing more than lacing up my shoes and hitting the road. In essence, that’s exactly what you have to do, but being a successful runner is all in the details. Those details include a training program, warm-ups, stretching, and yes, a properly fitting pair of running shoes. Yesterday we talked about 2 of the most common injuries runners, new and old, face – shin pain and IT band syndrome. I have personally dealt with IT band syndrome, and several people on Team Shrinking Jeans have worked their way through some severe shin pain as we’ve done our 1/2 marathon training. Thankfully we have an amazing Coach named Joe to help us navigate the running path. My hope is that through our experiences, you might become a better, more informed runner!

Plantar Fasciitis

What is it? Well, you can read this excellent article our own Crooked Eyebrow aka Donya wrote awhile back. She’s a nurse for a foot doctor, so she shares lots of good knowledge on this common foot injury.

What causes Plantar Fasciitis? According to Jeff Galloway’s Running Injuries book, “injury to the fascia (which is the tough connective tissue that connects at the heal of the foot and then fans out to the ball of the foot) occurs when the force downward on the arch stretches the fascia beyond it’s strength. This is often a gradual injury that can be attributed to running in old or poorly supporting shoes. It is aggravated  by the shoes worn when NOT running, though. Walking too long in sandals, flip flops or barefoot, weight gain, and overdoing other athletic activities.”

How can you treat Plantar Fasciitis? Coach Joe recommends “stretching regularly and vigorously – the feet, calf muscles and Achilles tendons. Having flexibility in the feet and lower leg is key to reducing the impact on the feet. Second, again, check that shoes are cushioned or move to a more cushioned shoe. A impact absorbing pad can also be added into the shoe under the heel to take some of the impact. Third, adding strengthening exercises for the feet will help build the muscles in the region to make them stronger.”

Can you still train or run with Plantar Fasciitis? Yes, it is possible to continue with your running program. Jeff Galloway advises taking a few days off at the earliest sign, and then to continue your program avoiding speedwork, fast running, and hill training until the pain is mild. Mild cases of PF will only cause a dull ache and sensitve heel or arch. You should be able to run/walk with no pain after a short warm-up, and only experience mild stiffness later. Do not run/walk if you have strong pain that flares up during your workout.

If the pain persists for more than 2 weeks, or if it get significantly worse, you should definitely see a doctor who specializes in foot problems for athletes. Custom fitting orthotics (shoe inserts) might be the only way to alleviate the pain.

Runner’s Knee

Since none of us have had to deal with runner’s knee, I’m pulling some information from Coach Joe’s website:

This problem is obviously so common that they named the injury after us runners. The pain with Runner’s Knee (or patella-femoral stress syndrome) is typically felt in the middle of the knee below the knee cap, the lower inside of the knee, or sometimes all the way around in the back of the knee. Here a weak quadriceps muscle is often to blame. If the quadriceps are not strong enough, the knee will not move in its correct tracking motion and the knee cap is allowed to move around causing pain.

The other cause of Runner’s Knee can be shoes that are allowing the foot to over-pronate (twist inward). As the old song goes, “the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone. The ankle bone is connected to the shin bone. . .” and so on. Basically as the foot rolls inward, it twists the lower leg, which then puts stress on the knee.

Treatment for Runner’s Knee is again a combination of getting the right gear and strengthening the leg muscles. If you’re having this problem, make sure that you have new shoes and that they are not allowing you to pronate. Often adding additional cushioning to the shoe will help here as well to reduce the impact on the knee. Strength exercises should target the quadriceps muscle and could also include leg lifts lying on your back.

In most cases, with a short reduction in training, getting into new and more cushioned shoes, and adding strength exercises will help clear up Runner’s Knee. Again, if this problem is allowed to go on for a long time, it will be much harder to clear up and could require significant time off running.

There are many more injuries runners, and non-runners, suffer from. Always remember that shoes are a major factor in injury, and we stress that you get properly fitted from the start so you can avoid injuring yourself. Seriously. It’s just not worth the pain and frustration. If you do sustain an injury, stop what you’re doing and take a few days off. Ice the injury often, and if the pain persists for a couple of weeks, or gets more intense, get thee to a sports medicine doctor STAT. If you don’t have a sports medicine doctor handy, you can certainly see your general practitioner, but keep in mind that unless they are athletes themselves, they aren’t going to treat you as an athlete and you might end up off your program for longer than necessary. Sports medicine doctors know how to treat athletic injuries and understand that you don’t want to be benched for a long period of time.

We at the Sisterhood wish you easy injury free runs and workouts!!


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