Treatment and Prevention of Common Running Injuries

Shin Splints

Shin splints are a result of the repetitive pounding nature of running caused by the downward forces on the tibia and the associated muscles. Symptoms of shin splints include pain in the front of the lower leg.

The pain usually begins as a dull ache in the shin that can get progressively more severe with added mileage. Continued training can lead to stress reactions and even stress fractures.

Treatment:

  • Switch between running and non-weight bearing activities for 1 to 2 weeks to lessen the pressure on the affected area.
  • Ice your shins 10 to 20 minutes twice daily, especially after activity.

Prevention:

  • Ease into any running program by slowly adding miles to your weekly regimen.
  • Increase your cadence and avoid over-striding.

Strengthen your calf muscles using the following exercises:

  • Calf raises (both legs)
  • Single leg calf raises with a 5-pound weight

Illiotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

Like runner's knee, IT band syndrome can be caused by a weakness in the gluteal muscles. "It becomes symptomatic when the runner has weakness in those muscles and they begin to internally rotate at the femur," Dr. Leisz says.

While the IT band runs from the hip down to the knee, most runners experience pain closer to the knee as the band gets tight and inflamed.

Treatment:

  • Use a foam roller to roll out and stretch the entire length of the IT band.
  • Back off activity for several days to allow the inflammation to decrease.
  • Prevention:

    Strengthen gluteal muscles and hip abductors with the following exercises:

    • Lunges
    • Side leg lifts

    More: How to Aggressively Treat IT Band Syndrome/a>

    Plantar Fasciitis

    Planter fasciitis occurs most often in runners who have extremely flat or high-arched feet. Those extreme foot types generally make for an overly flexible or rigid step. "Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the origin of the plantar fascia at the heel bone," explain Dr. Leisz.

    Pain is usually felt in the heel and the bottom of the foot and is oftentimes the most severe in the morning as you take your first steps of the day.

    Treatment:

    • Get fitted for orthotics that will help equalize the pressure underneath the foot.
    • Wear a Strassburg sock while sleeping to keep the plantar fascia flexed, preventing it from shortening overnight.
    • Roll your foot over a frozen water bottle for 10 minutes twice daily.

    Prevention:

    • Always use the 10 percent rule: don't increase your mileage more than 10 percent over what you ran the previous week.
    • Don't make any drastic changes in footwear, such as going from a motion control shoe to running barefoot; allow your body time to slowly adapt to any training modifications.

    More: 2 Yoga Poses for Plantar Fasciitis

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