You can prevent most running injuries with the right knowledge and treatment, combined with smart training. Running is a repetitive sport and, as such, can put repetitive stress on your feet and ankles as well as the small muscles and tendons that support them.
As a runner, you can encounter a range of injuries during training and events. Foot and ankle injuries are a regular part of the sport for many runners.
There is good news, though! Most foot and ankle injuries are easily treatable without you having to be off your feet for too long. Additionally, you can prevent most running injuries with the right knowledge, treatment, and smart training.
Some foot and ankle injuries are more common among runners. At Advanced Foot and Ankle Wellness Center, Dr. Wawrzynek is skilled at treating running injuries.
Common Running Injuries
A wide range of common running injuries can impact your body. It is important to be aware of what types of injuries you can face as a runner so that you are aware of the symptoms and know when to get help.
An ankle sprain occurs when one or more of the ligaments in the ankle is injured. Some ankle sprains are worse than others. Ankle sprains are another common sports injury.
The severity of an ankle sprain depends upon the damage to the ligament. The ligament can be stretched, partially torn, or completely torn. Multiple ligaments can also be damaged. An ankle sprain is not the same as a strain. An ankle sprain affects your muscles; an ankle strain impacts your ligaments.
A ligament is a band of tissue, kind of like rubber bands. They connect your bones and bind the joints together. An ankle sprain occurs when there is an injury to the lateral ligamentous complex. The lateral ligamentous complex comprises two ligaments, the anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament. Both of these ligaments support the ankle.
If you suffer an ankle sprain, you want to get the ankle support you need for healing to get you back in action.
An ankle fracture is a common sports injury. It is often caused by the ankle rolling inward or outward. A fracture is a partial or complete break in a bone.
An ankle fracture can range in severity from an avulsion injury where small pieces of bone have been pulled off to a more severe shattering-type break of the tibia and fibula.
An ankle fracture requires special care and early diagnosis. The sooner an ankle fracture is taken care of, the sooner you can get back into action!
Achilles Tendon Rupture
An Achilles tendon rupture is a complete or partial tear that occurs when the tendon is stretched beyond its capacity. A tendon is a tissue band connecting a muscle to a bone.
The Achilles tendon runs down from the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon, also called the “heel cord,” facilitates walking by helping raise the heel off the ground.
An Achilles tendon rupture can occur from falling, tripping, forceful jumping or pivoting, overstretching, or sudden running acceleration.
Chronic Ankle Instability
Chronic ankle instability is characterized by a recurring “giving way” of the ankle's outer (lateral) side. This “giving way” usually occurs when walking or engaging in other activities; however, sometimes, it can happen when simply standing around. This is a common condition that affects athletes and other individuals.
After repeated ankle sprains, chronic ankle instability often develops. Another underlying cause of ankle instability is flexible flat foot.
Symptoms of chronic ankle instability include:
- Feelings of wobbliness and instability in the ankle
- Chronic swelling and discomfort
- A repeated turning of the ankle, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports
Achilles tendonitis is a common injury among athletes, particularly runners. The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to the heel. It is the largest tendon in the body.
Since the Achilles tendon is used for numerous day-to-day activities, such as walking, running, climbing, and jumping, it is susceptible to injury and inflammation (Achilles tendonitis).
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Wellness Center, foot and ankle specialist Dr. Melissa Wawrzynek has extensive experience treating Achilles tendonitis.
What are the primary causes of Achilles tendonitis?
Overuse and placing too much stress on the tendon are the leading causes of Achilles tendonitis. Generally, the most significant risk factor for Achilles tendonitis is the sudden increase in intensity and frequency of exercise. This can result in the tightening of your calf muscles and result in Achilles tendonitis.
It is, therefore, essential to avoid unnecessary stress on the Achilles tendon. When you start exercising, you want to increase your activity gradually, not suddenly. This allows your body to adjust to your new level of activity.
When working out, it is also important to maintain your flexibility. Stretch your calf muscles before exercising to reduce the stress on the Achilles tendon.
Additionally, bone spurs (excess bone growth where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel) can rub against the tendon and contribute to Achilles tendonitis.
How to Treat Common Running Injuries
Most running injuries can be relieved by following these easy at-home treatment strategies. If pain or discomfort continues, you will want to see your health care provider.
Rest is one of the best things you can do when facing a running injury. Continuing to run can worsen your injury. Take it easy and allow your body time to heal.
Ice and cold therapy
Apply an ice pack to the impacted area to reduce inflammation, pain, and swelling. Always wrap the ice pack in a towel; do not apply it directly to your skin—ice for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Do not continually ice for hours at a time.
If you hurt your foot, elevating your foot is one of the best ways to reduce swelling.
Gentle stretches and massage are two effective methods for reducing pain and tension in an injured part of your body.
Use pain relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or anti-inflammatory medication such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can be used to relieve pain and inflammation.
If you are experiencing pain in your foot or legs, don’t push through it. Take a break from running; if the pain persists, see a medical professional.
How to Prevent Running Injuries
Running injuries often occur when you push yourself too hard. Running injuries can also occur due to the way your body moves. Most running injuries are preventable.
Here are a few tips for preventing running injuries.
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Wellness Center, we not only treat running injuries, but we can also help prevent running injuries as well through the use of 3D gait analysis.
Advanced Foot & Ankle Wellness Center has a Run3D gait analysis machine, which can be used to record your movements as you walk in order to determine your movement pattern.
This information can be used to correct issues with your gait and movement that could contribute to future injuries if left uncorrected. Run3D gait analysis can also be used as a treatment tool when recovering from a sports injury.
Listen to your body
Listen to what your body is telling you. It is okay to be a little sore after working out. However, your body shouldn’t be in pain if you notice consistent pain from a muscle or joint; rest and see a health care provider to figure out what is causing the pain.
Warm-up and stretch
It is important always to take the time to stretch your muscles before and after you run.
Before stretching, warm up your body by walking for five minutes, so you are not stretching cold muscles. Stretching cold muscles can result in injury.
Be sure to stretch the following muscles:
Many injuries are caused by improper stretching before and after working out.
Engage in strength training
Don’t just run; be sure you are developing your muscles. Include both ab exercises and weight training in your running routine. This will help to strengthen your muscles and improve your core strength.
Do some cross-training
Be sure you are engaging in other aerobic exercises. Add some swimming, biking, tennis, yoga, or other activities into your exercise routine.
Cross-training helps reduce overuse injuries that occur when you only engage in the same type of exercise repeatedly.
Be smart with your shoes
Wear shoes that provide you with adequate support for your foot structure. Remember that running shoes are not made to last forever.
They are only made to last for a specific number of miles. Once the soles on your running shoes start to become thin or angled, you need to get a new pair of shoes.
Dress appropriately for your run
When going for a run, wear lightweight and breathable clothing that helps wick moisture from your skin. Wear a hat to protect against the cold and sun. Dress in layers.
Always stay hydrated
On days you go for a run, be sure to drink extra water. If you are running for longer than an hour, be sure to drink something like a sports drink that will replenish your electrolytes that you will lose from sweating during your run.
Treatment for Running Injuries in King of Prussia, PA
Are you suffering from a sports injury? Let us help you get back on your feet! Schedule a consultation with Dr. Melissa Wawrzynek at the Advanced Foot & Ankle Wellness Center today! You can call us at (610) 822-3900 or request an appointment online.