Running is an amazing method of keeping in shape but that doesn’t mean it’s injury-free. Just like any other form of exercise, running can also be damaging, especially for the unprepared. That’s why whenever you begin developing an exercise habit, be it running or anything else, it is important to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workout sessions.
Runners often face similar injuries that make it difficult to continue running. However, getting injured is not the end of the world – many of these ailments can be treated relatively easily.
Knees are commonly injured due to having to bear the brunt of our upper bodies when running. Runner’s knee is a kneecap injury and can be felt not only when running but also when going down the stairs or squatting. Weak quads and glutes are common risk factors. To prevent runner’s knee you should take extra care to strengthen these muscles (once you have healed, of course).
Runner’s knee doesn’t prevent you from running completely but you will need to decrease the distance and frequency of your runs. You can run as long as you like but should stop immediately once you feel pain in your knees. Straining your kneecaps further will only make the injury worse.
Generally speaking, shin splints happen when you put too much stress on your lower leg. They occur most often in beginner runners or people who have started running again after a long break. Running makes you use specific muscles around your shins (tibia) that don’t often get used in everyday life. The tendons of these muscles can tear when suddenly overused, causing shin splints. The pain is most prominent in the front or inside of the shin.
You can treat shin splints at home by resting your leg and putting ice on the injured area at least three times a day. You should be back to being able to run in around two or three weeks.
Some people are more susceptible to shin injuries than others, for example, people with flat feet. See here for the best running shoes for shin splints.
Stress fractures are not the most severe type of fractures but they should still be taken seriously. This injury most often occurs in the feet and shins. It is a small crack in the bone caused by excessive exercise. They are often too small to see on a normal x-ray but are visible on MRI scans.
Resting your leg is the most effective treatment. Your doctor might even prescribe crutches or a leg brace to further reduce the load on the injured bone. Apply ice to relieve pain and slowly resume your activities. A stress fracture should be consulted with a doctor because if not treated properly it can lead to much more serious injuries.
Trying to become healthy can have unfortunate consequences but it doesn’t have to. Many of these injuries can be prevented with good warm-up routines. As a runner, you should be aware of these potential injuries and knowingly avoid them.