Studies have indicated that nearly 80 percent of runners are injured each year, with about 40% being knee injuries. Most injuries are caused by overuse (applying repeated force over a prolonged period of time), poor running form and poor selection of footwear or worn-out footwear.
Some of the most common running injuries include:
- Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in the bottom of the foot that is characterized by a sharp, painful sensation at the base of the heel. The pain may eventually go away and return a short time later or the next day. Overtraining, over use and improper / worn out footwear can contribute to the problem, but the root cause is tight and weakened muscles in the feet.
- Achilles tendinitis, an acute inflammation of the Achilles tendon, characterized by swelling and oftentimes sharp pain at the back of the lower leg just above the Achilles tendon, the thick band of tissue that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). Common causes include tight calves, heel (bone) spur, condition of the foot or ankle, tear in the Achilles tendon, unsupportive footwear, a quick increase in training volume and/or intensity. Achilles tendonitis is often used interchangeably with another term: Achilles tendinosis. But, there is a major difference. Achilles tendonitis is an acute inflammation that lasts a few weeks or less. Achilles tendinosis is a persistent or chronic condition lasting more than a few weeks, which involves the degeneration and inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It can occur in the middle of the tendon (midsubstance Achilles tendinosis) or where the tendon connects to the heel bone (Achilles tendinosis).
- Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), an inflammation of the iliotibial (IT) band - a tendon that connects the knee to the hip. This condition can be caused by many things, with the most common causes being aggressive downhill running, always running on the same side of the road, and weak hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes.
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), also known as Runner's Knee is the irritation of the cartiliage on the underside of the patella (kneecap) characterized by a constant ache or pain underneath the knee cap that worsens as the intensity of exercise increases. Among the causes are uneven running surfaces, poor shoe selection, inability of the tissues surrounding the knee to recover in between runs, weak quads and hips, other unaddressed biomechanical flaws. It also often happens when a kneecap is out of alignment.
- Patellar tendinitis (Jumper's Knee), tiny tears in the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to the shinbone. The most common causes are over-training, overpronation (inward rolling of the foot after landing), weak hamstrings and quads and too many hill repeats.
- Shin splints, an umbrella term that refers to pain in the shin area. It can be as mild as tender and inflamed muscles in the shin with pain that lessens a few miles into the run to the more severe cases that can turn into a stress fracture along the tibia. A typical cause is a sudden spike in training intensity and volume, inexperience running on hard surfaces, worn out or improper footwear and tight, inflexible muscles.
- Stress fracture, a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort, which typically happens in the shins and feet. Stress fractures are often caused by a sudden spike in training volume and/or intensity.
- Muscle pull (also known as muscle strain), a small tear in your muscle typically caused by overstretching a muscle.
- Ankle sprain, the accidental stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle. Inversion sprains (when foot twists and rolls inward) are the most common among runners. Common causes include running on an uneven surface or landing awkwardly on the foot.
Many times, running injuries can be prevented. Before starting a running program, call us and learn how we can advise you on proper form, training methods, injury prevention strategies and proper shoe selection. We can also work with you to develop a tailor made plan for successful running. For runners who have sustained a running-related injury, please contact us so we can provide information on how we can evaluate, diagnose and treat you. Washington offers provisional direct access to physical therapy, so you may have to obtain a referral from your physician before coming to us for treatment.