5 common running injuries (and how to avoid them)

December 15, 2014

Running injuries can sideline you for months. Discover how most of these pains can be avoided if your weekly routine is built to avoid injuries.
While many of these running injuries are exacerbated by physical abnormalities, practicing good running habits like regular stretching, cross training, and other sensible steps can reduce your chance of a problem.

5 common running injuries (and how to avoid them)

1. Runner's knee

If you have persistent pain at the front of your knee, you may have a common ailment called runner's knee. Runner's knee is caused by overuse and can be aggravated by poor alignment of your knees and other joints. To avoid this painful problem, runners should strengthen their glute and hip abductor muscles to resolve any muscle imbalances that create stress. Regular stretching and losing weight, if necessary, can also help prevent injury.

2. Hamstring issues

Hamstring problems are persistent and there's a high risk of re-injury. Pain and sometimes bruising along the hamstring indicates an injury. Doctors are unsure what causes hamstring injuries, but they agree that strengthening the hamstring through weight-lifting and stretching will help reduce the chance of injury.

3. Heel spurs

Heel spurs produce a sharp pain that travels from the base of the heel. Heel spurs occur when the plantar fascia, which is located in the arch of your foot, becomes inflamed. They can be caused by wearing shoes with inadequate support, over training, being overweight or tight calf muscles.

To avoid causing inflammation, make sure you have a running program that includes stretching, maintaining a healthy body weight, increasing your mileage gradually and replacing worn running shoes promptly.

4. Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome

IT band syndrome causes pain on either side of the knee, which may also radiate up through the thigh. It occurs when the iliotibial band becomes inflamed due to stress. This stress can be caused by running too much, overusing weak joints, running downhill or poor running form.

Once again, the key to avoiding this injury is common sense. Runners should avoid over-training, should consider cross training to strengthen joints and try to perfect their running gait.

5. Shin splints

Lower leg pain that's worse in the morning usually indicates a shin splint. Physicians have differing ideas as to why this common runner's injury occurs; some believe it's an inflammation of the muscles around the shin, others believe it's created by small tears where the muscle has separated from the bone.

However, doctors do agree that shin splints are caused by worn-out running shoes, overpronation or a poor stretching routine. To prevent this injury, get fitted for new running shoes often, ensure your gait doesn't put undue stress on any part of your leg, and make sure that you're stretching before and after your run.

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