5 common running injuries and how to avoid them

As training season kicks into high gear – don’t let an injury sideline you.

Many running programs are gearing up for the season in Central Texas. Whether your goal is to run a marathon or just become more active, doctors say you should begin by laying the groundwork to prevent injury.

That includes starting off slowly and making sure you have the right equipment.

Common running injuries

Some of the most common injuries are usually related to overuse or repetitive injuries and poor body mechanics, according to Dr. Vishal Kancherla, with ADC’s Physical Medicine department.

Some common injuries are:

  • Shin splints
    Pain along the front of inside of the lower leg, along the shin bone. It could be as serious as a stress fracture or just be inflamed.
  • Achilles Tendinitis
    Pain that happens at the back of the calf, just above the heel where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone.
  • Knee pain (runner’s knee)
    Constant ache under the kneecap during activity which occurs from the kneecap being out of alignment
  • Muscle strains
    Micro tears of the muscle secondary to overuse or improper/ overstretching. The most common muscles affected are the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf and groin.
  • IT Band syndrome
    This syndrome causes pain on the outside of the knee and along the lateral thigh. The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee that can become inflamed and taught.

Dr. Kancherla says many times these injuries can be prevented by avoiding the “terrible too’s.”

  • Too fast too soon
  • Too much mileage too soon
  • Too much intensity too soon

Preventing common injuries

It’s easy to overdo training when you’re excited about a goal, but Dr. Kancherla says it’s important to start slowly, especially if the training program is new to you. There are several easy ways to prevent running injuries. These include creating a running plan that fits your level, warm –up and stretch, strength train, cross train, dress appropriately, stay hydrated and wear the right shoe.

“Footwear has a lot to do with preventing injury — having the right type of shoe and running on the right type of surface,” Dr. Kancherla said. “If you have a good shoe and a good surface, that reduces stress reaction on the joints and extremities, and that can reduce a lot of these injuries.”

Dr. Thuy Ho-Ellsworth, a podiatrist at ADC agrees. She says it’s important to make sure you have the right shoes.

“A lot of that is associated with whether you are wearing the right shoes and changing out your shoes enough,” said Dr. Ho-Ellsworth said. “I recommend to my patients that they change out their shoes every 300 to 400 miles.”

When you look for running shoes, both Drs. Kancherla and Ho-Ellsworth say to have your gait evaluated at a specialty running store. Some stores offer this service for free,

Store employees can identify issues like over-pronation, which can lead to many common running injuries, and prescribe the right shoe for you.

When you feel pain

If you do end up with an injury, Dr. Kancherla says it’s important not to run through the pain.

“Listen to your body. Take a step back,” he said.

You can apply RICE treatment:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

He says you might consider using an over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol or NSAIDS to manage the pain.

If the pain doesn’t improve in a couple of days, you may want to call your doctor to have the symptoms evaluated.

Its also important to be aware of some symptoms that would require immediate attention. These include weakness , numbness, pin or needles type sensation , or swelling of an extremity or joint.