Whether you are a competitive runner or just like to jog for exercise, running is an activity that places a tremendous amount of repetitive stress on your lower body. It is no surprise that you can suffer a running injury. Over time, that stress can lead to a variety of overuse injuries.
This article briefly describes some of the most common overuse running and jogging injuries.
Running injury #1: Iliotibial band syndrome – a.k.a. IT band syndrome
The IT band is a long band of tissue that runs along the lateral side (outside) of the hip, thigh, and knee.
IT band syndrome is a common cause of knee pain in runners and joggers. You might feel pain on the outside of your knee at the bony prominence just above the knee joint line. You might notice a snapping sensation as the inflamed IT band rubs back and forth across that bony prominence.
Fortunately, surgery is rarely necessary for IT band syndrome. Treatment can involve stretching, short-term modification of activity and physical therapy. Occasionally, your doctor or orthopedic surgeon can inject cortisone into the inflamed portion of the IT band to relieve inflammation.
Running injury #2: Medial tibial stress syndrome – a.k.a. Shin splints
Shin splints are a common way of describing medial tibial stress syndrome. This is a cause of pain along the tibia (shinbone) often caused by overuse.
Unlike a stress fracture of the tibia, if you have shin splints, you usually have pain along a broader area of the bone. Treatment usually involves rest, activity modification, ice, and physical therapy. Fortunately, surgery is rarely needed. Doctors often order x-rays and/or MRIs if pain continues in order to rule out a stress fracture.
Running injury #3: Patellofemoral pain syndrome
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a very common cause of knee pain in athletes and non-athletes alike. It has many underlying causes, but it often causes pain to one or both knees in many young people. It usually comes on without a specific event.
You might notice pain under the kneecap or diffusely throughout your knee. You might feel a popping or grinding sensation under the patella. Pain going up or down stairs or sitting with the knee bent for long periods is common. Usually there is no structural damage, such as cartilage or ligament injury, within the knee, so good relief of pain can usually be achieved with physical therapy or a home exercise program.
Running injury #4: Achilles tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis refers to inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Runners often battle nagging pain along the tendon. The cause can be inflammation of the tendon (Achilles tendinitis) or the tissue that surrounds the tendon. It can also be related to a small area of degeneration within the tendon.
Runners might complain of discomfort at the insertion of the tendon into the calcaneus (heel bone) or just above the tendon insertion. Treatment often involves rest, activity modification, stretching, ice, and physical therapy. Success of these treatments is often good, but some runners struggle to obtain relief. Occasionally surgery can be performed for long-standing problems within the Achilles tendon.
Running injury #5: Metatarsal stress fracture
The metatarsals are the long bones of the foot. They receive stress with every step. In a runner, especially one in her 40s or 50s, repetitive stress in a short time can exceed the ability of the bone to heal. A stress fracture, which is a common running injury, can develop.
Most metatarsal stress fractures can heal without surgery. Treatment involves a period in which the runner refrains from running. Wearing a boot can help protect the bone and decrease pain. These efforts can help the fracture to heal and the athletes back to running.
Most of these injuries are overuse injuries. While no one wants to stop running, decreasing mileage or the number of training sessions can decrease the stress on that body part and allow the injury to heal. Simple measures like cross-training and increasing training slowly might prevent a running injury from occurring in the first place.
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