Some would say that humans are built to run, and they may be right. Your body has evolved to be a highly effective endurance runner. The way your hip and feet are shaped, the length of your legs, the spinal discs that absorb impact from the lower body, plus your ability to sweat make it possible for you to run ultramarathons.
About 40 million Americans run regularly. As great as running is, however, runners have to deal with injuries at some point. Eighty percent of these injuries are caused by repetitive stress. Sprained ankles, torn muscles, and other sudden injuries can happen, too.
So before putting on that running gear and go chasing a 10k personal best, below are a few caveats about running.
What You Should Know Before Going For A Run
A lot of runners log in hundreds or even thousands of miles a year. This stress on the body and the repetitive impact of all those foot strikes on the road can add up and affect your joints, muscles, and connective tissues. And, it’s no surprise that the feet, knees, and legs are the most susceptible to injuries for runners. Here are the most common injuries runners regularly suffer from:
- Runner’s Knee
Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is the most common runner’s injury. It is characterized by the irritation of the cartilage behind the patella or kneecap. This happens when the cartilage gets worn down from overuse. The runner could feel pain around the kneecap, especially when using the stairs, squatting, or sitting with knees bent for a prolonged time.
Take a break from running if you feel pain inside your knee when waking up, and the pain doesn’t go away during the day.
- Plantar Fasciitis
This injury involves degeneration of the fascia, the thick layer of tissue on the bottom of your foot. A sudden increase in running intensity and duration can put undue pressure on your fascia and cause it to become inflamed. Pain from plantar fasciitis can be acute when taking your first few steps in the morning or after sitting for a long time. Wearing comfortable shoes designed for runners who suffer from plantar fasciitis would help alleviate the symptoms.
- Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis can happen to runners who suddenly increased their mileage and intensity without proper preparation. This injury affects the tendon connecting your heel to the calf muscle. Symptoms would include a dull pain above your Achilles’ heel and stiffness in the affected region, especially in the morning. Left ignored and untreated, this could eventually lead to a torn Achilles tendon. If this happens, it would require surgery to repair it.
- Tibial Stress Syndrome
Also known as shin splints, this injury is caused by repeated stress to your shinbone and the connective tissues that join the muscles to your bones. Shin splints can be very painful and are often caused by going too far, too fast, too quickly, especially when running on surfaces like asphalt or concrete. However, shin splints can heal on their own, provided you give your shin a proper rest.
- Hamstring Injury
Hamstring injury happens when you strain any of the three muscles that run along the back of your thigh. You could easily strain your hamstrings if you’re tired or if they are tight and weak. If you have injured your hamstring, you would feel a dull pain at the back of your thigh.
Things A Runner Should Also Know
A runner is only too familiar with all these injuries. They can affect your training, your confidence, not to mention the frustration you’d feel for having your running routine disrupted. But, you should also know that there are ways for you to avoid these injuries. Here are some of them:
- Wear proper footwear. Choose running shoes that not only feel comfortable on your feet, but also a pair that suits your gait.
- Stretch your muscles. A few yoga poses would help your body be more flexible and can also improve your balance.
- Strengthen your core. You can also do strength training to help you gain muscle tone, strength, bone density, and improve your endurance.
- Build strength gradually. You can’t just run a full marathon so soon after running your first 10k. Slow and steady will get you there safely. Just be patient.
Running is a great sport, but remember that there is a good chance that you could suffer any of the injuries common to runners. However, you can avoid these injuries if you have proper shoes, and have prepared your body before going for a run.
By Leslie Yarbrough, a successful writer who talks about health and wellness on her blog and other health-focused websites, as well. Leslie also uses her blog to encourage readers to live a healthy lifestyle by teaching them healthy recipes and effective workouts.