As most runners know, the sport of running can be incredibly taxing on the body. While the ideal situation is certainly a pain-free run every single time, the reality is that running injuries are very common. From aches and pains here to twinges and tweaks there, being aware of the body and some of the most common running injuries is important. Those runners who are especially conscious of their body and potential damages will be better equipped to avoid setbacks. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common running injuries and how to avoid them.
- Runner’s Knee: medically referred to as “patellofemoral syndrome”, runner’s knee is one of the most common injuries suffered by runners today. When the cartilage under the kneecap becomes irritated, runner’s knee is likely to occur. In fact, nearly 40 percent of all running injuries are injuries to the knee. To prevent this type of damage from occurring, running experts encourage a shorter stride paired with a slightly bent knee at landing. In doing so, up to 30 percent of the load is taken off of the joint.
- Hamstring Injury: the hamstring refers to the muscles that run down the back of the thighs and help the knee to bed as the leg extends. When tightness or weakness plagues the hamstring, runners will immediately take notice. On one end of the spectrum hamstring injuries can come from stretched-out muscles, on the other end, however, they can also take place from poorly stretched, tight muscles. Keeping the hamstring muscles properly stretched and strong will play the biggest role in preventing a hamstring injury from occurring during your runs.
- Achilles Tendonitis: the two major calf muscles are connected to the back of the heel by the Achilles tendon and are therefore critical during runs for optimal performance. When the tendon is placed under a lot of stress it becomes irritated and tight. As such, Achilles tendonitis will begin to take place which is incredibly uncomfortable. This injury is very common in runners, accounting for about 11 percent of all running injuries. Preventing Achilles tendonitis from occurring can be achieved by maintaining strong calf muscles as well as avoiding aggressive calf stretching.
While runner’s knee, hamstring injuries, and Achilles tendonitis are the most common of running injuries, there are certainly many additional ways that runners suffer each day. Being proactive about addressing even minor pain is critical to pinpointing injuries before they become serious. We encourage active runners to seek physical therapy for minor injuries in order to make the body as well-equipped as possible to handle consistent running.