There are four periods of time when runners are most vulnerable to injury:
During the initial four to six months of running.
Upon returning to running after an injury.
When the quantity of running is increased (distance).
When the quality of running is increased (speed).
Most running injuries are caused by recurring factors that runners can often prevent or avoid. Improper training is the most common source of injury, particularly inadequate warm up, rapid changes in mileage, a sudden increase in hill training and insufficient rest between training sessions. Follow the guidelines on pages # to # to reduce your risk for injury.
Signs of a running injury Signs that you may be injured or need to alter or stop your running:
Dizziness or lightheaded feeling any time
Headaches during or after running
Inability to sleep
Pain or discomfort while running
Pain at rest
Shortness of breath after little exertion (exercise asthma)
Common running injuries Some of the most common running injuries are:
Achilles tendinitis – Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon that usually occurs either due to repetitive stress or from a runner pushing him/herself to do too much too fast.
Ankle sprains – Ankle sprains occur when ligaments around the ankle are overstretched or torn, often because a runner did not pay attention to a change in terrain.
Dizziness and nausea – This is usually caused by improper hydration. To prevent dehydration, drink 10 to 15 ounces of fluid 10 to 15 minutes prior to running and every 20 to 30 minutes along your route. Do not overhydrate; this lowers sodium levels in the body and stresses the kidneys.
Muscle strains – Strains are small muscle tears that can occur from overexertion or poor flexibility.
Stress fractures – Stress fractures can be caused by overtraining, inadequate calcium in the body or by a basic biomechanical flaw in the runner’s gait. Common stress fractures in runners occur in the tibia, femur and metatarsal bones in the foot.
Shin splints – The most common type of shin splints happen on the inside of the legs. These medial shin splints result from a biomechanical flaw in the way the foot moves (which can be made worse by a shoe that doesn’t offer enough support) and/or overtraining.
Treating running injuries Mild injuries, such as most sprains and strains, can be treated using the RICE protocol:
Rest – Stop running and do not return while symptoms persist. When you do return, gradually ease in, increasing distance by no more than 10 percent per week.
Ice the ankle for 20 minutes at a time several times a day until swelling subsides.
Compression dressings, such as ACE wraps, may help.
Elevate your ankle above your heart when possible to reduce swelling.
Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be used as directed to help relieve pain and reduce swelling.
For more serious injuries, it is important to see your physician in order to properly evaluate and diagnose your injury. Your physician will discuss treatment options with you at that time.
Ryan Krupp, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon with Norton Orthopaedic Specialists and director of sports health for Norton Healthcare, talks about the steps beginning runners can take to avoid injuries.
Sam Carter, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon with Norton Orthopaedic Specialists who specializes in sports medicine, discusses the most common types of running injuries and when they are most likely to occur.