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Let’s take a look at some of the most common running injuries, their causes, and how to treat those injuries.
Runner’s Toe occurs when the nail is either pressed down too much on the bed underneath it or the nail tears from the bed itself. Either condition causes blood to pool between the nail and the bed. The nail eventually turns black.
Runner’s Toe can be caused by poor fitting shoes (most common cause), excessive downhill running, and wet shoes. Typically, the longest toe is pressed against the front of the shoe causing damage to the nail and/or nailbed.
The primary treatment is to ensure that your shoes are long enough and fit correctly. If bleeding continues and pressure builds beneath the nail, you will require professional advice to release the fluid.
Plantar Fasciitis/Heel and Arch Pain
Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a fibrous band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes. Pain is felt along the inside bottom of your foot anywhere from the heel through the arch.
The plantar fascia typically becomes inflamed when it works through more of a range of motion than it’s designed to do. Runners with tight Achilles tendons, who overpronate, have high arches, have rigid feet, and inflexible running shoes are most likely to suffer with Plantar Fasciitis.
The best treatment for Plantar Fasciitis is to ice the bottom of your foot from heel to ball and to make sure that your shoes have the proper combination of motion control and cushioning.
Stress fractures are very small, incomplete breaks or cracks in a bone. Runners most often get stress fractures in their feet.
Stress fractures are caused by continuous stress on bones that become overworked. Common running errors such as building mileage too quickly, wearing shoes without enough cushioning, and running too much on hard, non-forgiving surfaces are common contributors to a stress fracture running injury.
The treatment for a stress fracture injury is to stop running. Continuing to run will make the injury worse and could result in a complete break. If you know you have a stress fracture, take two weeks off from running while severely limiting other weight-bearing activities. If you have pain after you restart running, stop and see your physician.
Achilles tendinitis is a painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This large tendon is an extension of the two calf muscles and runs down the back of the lower leg and attaches to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon connects the strong leg muscles to the foot and gives us the ability to rise up on our toes, facilitating the act of walking and running.
Achilles tendinitis is caused by many of the same things that lead to plantar faciitis as well as overpronation, tight calf muscles, and shoes that fit too high against your heel.
Typical treatment include icing, taking anti-inflammatory medication, cutting back on running if your normal stride is altered, and wearing lifts in your street and running shoe heels until the pain subsides. In rare cases, severe Achilles tendinitis may require surgery and lengthy rehabilitation. Surgery involves removing the tendon’s inflamed outer covering and reattaching the torn tissues.
Shin splints are tiny tears of the front lower leg muscles away from the shin bone and are one of the most common running injuries for beginner runners.
Shin splints are caused by tired or inflexible calf muscles, weak shins, overstriding, overpronation and running on hard surfaces such as concrete sidewalks.
The best treatment for shin splints is to ice the inflamed area, take anti-inflammatory medication, cut back on run mileage, run on soft, forgiving surfaces whenever possible, and to wear a Pro-Tec® Athletic Shin Splint Compression Wrap that takes the pressure off your shins.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial Band Syndrome is inflammation and pain on the outer thigh from the knee to the hip. The iliotibial band is a thick ligament that runs from the pelvis to the outside of the thigh connecting just below the knee. It stabilizes your thigh muscles and knee when you run.
Causes of Iliotibial band syndrome are bowleggedness, overpronation, worn-out running shoes, running on uneven surfaces, and excessive downhill running.
Treatment for iliotibial band syndrome includes backing off run mileage, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and icing it often. A top rated product treatment option for ITB is the Pro-Tec® Iliotibial Band. Specific prevention tactics are to increase the band’s flexibility through stretching and running on even surfaces.
For addition information including causes, prevention, and treatment check out Iliotibial Band Syndrome – A Runner’s Guide
A hamstring pull is actually a type of muscle strain. Muscle fibers are torn either partially or completely. Hamstring problems for distance runners are typically low-grade, chronic microtears that build up over time.
Hamstring problems are typically caused by poor flexibility and a neglected stretching routine.
Treatment strategies to help heal this common injury are icing, anti-inflammatory medication, no running during acute stages of injury, gentle stretching, and strengthening.
Check out this full-body stretching routine!
Runner’s Knee or Chondromalacia is a softening, wearing away, or cracking of the cartilage under the kneecap. This softening and inflammation prevents the kneecap from riding smoothly over the knee. Pain typically occurs around or behind the kneecap and worsens when sitting with legs bent for a long period of time or climbing stairs.
Runner’s knee is caused by several factors, including a high quadriceps angle, wide hips (female runners), and pronation of the feet. Most often, week quadriceps muscles will be the problem, as they do not absorb a sufficient amount of the impact or running, passing down the impact onto the knees.
Common Runner’s knee treatments include icing the area around the knee, using running shoes with better motion control, utilizing orthotics, and avoiding anything that requires the knee to stabilize itself (such as running on uneven surfaces, steep downhills and tight turns).
Defined by Webster as “soreness or irritation of the skin caused by friction.” Often a taboo subject among runners, chafing is one of those major irritants that only comes to mind once its “too late”. Primary areas of concern are the inner thighs, groin area, and nipples.
Tips to prevent chafing include:
- Wear clothing that fits well. Too tight shorts, sports bras or shirts can constrict the skin and too loose fabric can create friction with constant rubbing. Seams can be bothersome also. Some people wear socks inside out so the seam is not touching their toes.
- Moisture wicking material helps. Cotton fiber soaks up sweat/water and keeps it causing a heavy/sticky shirt that rubbing t-shirt. Technical shirts wick away moisture and help the moisture evaporate.
- Specific preventative solutions are petroleum jelly and Body Glide. Apply liberally to sensitive spots prerun for best results.
- Use band-aids or Nip Guards for nipples especially on runs of 10K distance or longer.
- For training runs, have an extra set of clothes ready if needed. If chafing begins it will give you a chance to change clothes.
- On race day, remember the mantra “Don’t wear anything new!”