How to Prevent Running Injuries

Prevent Running Injuries

As the weather continues to warm up, we know many of you are checking out our local Kitchener trails or Baden trails! While it is awesome to see so many of you get outside and stay active, we thought now would be a good time to outline some common running injuries and how you can avoid them. Everything from uneven ground, rocks, and firmer paths can take a toll on our bodies, especially when we try to run too much or too frequently. Everyone from beginners to running experts are at risk of experiencing an injury that can range from mild to severe on the pain spectrum.

While we know that in an ideal world, every step of your run would be pain free, the reality is that most runners are constantly dealing with slight annoyances. When you do not take a break or pay attention to these minor aches, they can escalate to full-blown injuries that will require a longer recovery period. As Baden and Kitchener rehabilitation experts, we have seen the most common running injuries firsthand, so our Livewell Physiotherapy team has the knowledge and experience necessary to treat them all. Our physiotherapy treatment plans will help you spend less time indoors recovering and more time safely enjoying our outdoor trails and parks. Keep reading for a list of some of the most common running injuries, what causes them, and how we can treat each one.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee is used to describe a variety of conditions that irritate and cause pain around the kneecap. This common injury will usually flare up during or after long runs, while going down hills or stairs, and after periods of prolonged sitting.

Causes & Treatment: Runner’s knee can be a result of a few different things including a structural defect, the way you walk or run, or your foot rotating inwards while your knee rotates outwards. You could be experiencing runner’s knee if you have pain in or around your knee while sitting, walking, or running. Although it will usually heal itself over time and with adequate rest days, you should seek physiotherapy help to strengthen any weak hip or glute muscles and learn proper icing/heating methods. We also recommend investing in a pair of orthotics that are designed to stop your feet from rotating while you run. These are especially helpful for those of you that have knee issues or experience Runner’s knee regularly. Doing postrun icing also provides relief in the early stages of this injury, while you can switch to heat once the injury reaches the healing stage.

Hamstring Strains

Your hamstring makes up most of the back of your thigh and is responsible for helping you bend your knees, extend your legs, and make it up hills. Since the hamstring gives you much of your “get up and go” when running, you will notice when it is too tight or weak to perform properly.

Causes & Treatments: Hamstring strains are often linked to your flexibility and strength, meaning improper warm up and running too hard or long can cause strains. Make sure you are always stretching before a run and considering taking stretching breaks in between runs to reduce the risk of strains. If not properly and immediately treated by a physiotherapist, constant re-injury can occur. Hamstring sprains tend to actually take a significant time to heal and you need to be careful to slowly work your way back up to runs after an injury. We recommend scheduling an appointment with our Livewell physiotherapists even if you just have some minor tightness in your hamstring to prevent more pressing injuries from occurring.

Shin Splints

Your shin bone (called a tibia) is the large bone that runs down the front of your lower leg. You will notice a tenderness, soreness, or pain along the inner side of this bone and possible lower leg swelling.

Causes & Treatments: Shin splits are usually connected to being a new runner and not letting your body adjust properly. You can experience this injury by training too hard too fast, wearing improper footwear, and a variety of other factors that result in small tears in the shin muscles, tendons, and surrounding tissue. Time and orthotics are a huge help for shin splints, as well as a rehabilitation plan that will help you slowly and safely get back into running to prevent reinjury. We recommend investing in a quality pair of running shoes and orthotics to eliminate the chance of shin splints. Having that extra bit of cushioning will help take stress off of your shins when you resume exercise.

Other Common Injuries

Outside of these three most popular running injuries, we also commonly treat Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, and Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Plantar Fasciitis is caused by small tears and inflammation in the foot— specifically the ligaments and tendons in the foot. Again, time is the best medicine for healing injured feet, as well as proper icing methods and orthotics to provide extra cushion. Achilles Tendonitis relates to your Achilles tendon that connects your two major calf muscles to the back of your heel. When under too much stress, this tendon may tighten and become irritated. Our physiotherapists can help by strengthening your calves and providing help to prevent overstretching your calves. Iliotibial band syndrome is connected to your IT band that runs along the outside of the thigh from your hip to your knee.  When running, your IT band rubs against the side of your femur as your knee flexes and extends. Taking up too much mileage at once can cause irritation that your physiotherapist can help manage and prevent through strengthening your hip abductors, foam rolling, and massage therapy.

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As with any physical activity, there is always a chance (no matter how careful you are) of injury while running. If you or someone in your household has an accident, please reach out to our team in Kitchener or Baden to be properly examined and diagnosed. While most running injuries are minor and will eventually disappear with time, some require more rehabilitation and healing. Our team of professionals specialize in pinpointing the exact cause of your pain or discomfort so that we can get you back on the track as soon as possible. Reach out to us by phone, email, or social media and one of our team members would be more than happy to help answer any of your questions!

Want more lifestyle advice on how to improve your overall health and wellness? Contact our Livewell Health and Physiotherapy Kitchener and Baden teams for more tips and don't forget to view our other services that can help put you on the right track.