Running offers a multitude of health benefits, including improving the health of your heart and circulatory system, reducing the risk of chronic disease, and lowering stress, to name just a few. Any regular physical activity poses the risk of sustaining an overuse injury. These injuries result from repeated stress on certain structures of the body. This is different from a sudden injury.

By understanding overuse injuries and taking steps to prevent them, you can enjoy hitting the track with fewer health worries. Here is a look at some typical overuse issues.

Shin splints

Known medically as medial tibial stress syndrome, shin splints bring you pain along the tibia, the large bone in the front of your lower leg. This type of stress injury commonly plagues new runners.

Building your running mileage and intensity gradually is the best way to lower your risk of shin splints. If you do develop shin splints, rest, ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines usually help.

At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, our providers can help keep you in tip-top shape and may recommend evaluation by a running specialist or shoes with special arch support, especially since overpronation of the ankle commonly causes shin splints.

Achilles tendonitis

Your Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that inserts into your heel and connects your calf muscle to your lower leg. Runners get Achilles tendonitis from repeatedly extending the foot. You notice pain along your Achilles tendon, which travels down the leg. It’s most common when you suddenly increase the duration of your run.

While you may feel eager to build up your mileage, gradually increasing your duration helps you avoid Achilles tendonitis. Physical therapy can help strengthen your calf and Achilles tendon, so you improve your flexibility. The stronger and more flexible your Achilles and the supporting muscles, the lower the chances of getting Achilles tendonitis.

Stress fracture

When you run, you strengthen your whole body, including your bones. Your bones constantly undergo a process called remodeling, where old bone tissue is removed, and new bone tissue is rebuilt.

When you push yourself by increasing the intensity or duration of your running too quickly, your body isn’t able to keep up with the demand to generate new bone tissue. Stress fractures occur when your bones lose older tissue before new tissue replaces it. In runners, the tibia, hips, thighs, ankles, and feet are most affected.

Stress fractures require more care than other common overuse injuries. If you suspect that you have a stress fracture, the providers at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists can conduct a thorough evaluation.

Plantar fasciitis

This involves irritation of the soft tissue band that runs along the bottom of your foot, which helps to support the arch. Plantar fasciitis pain is typically on the bottom of the heel where the plantar fascia originates, and it hurts the worst with the first steps of the day — when the plantar fascia is the tightest — and is worsened by running.

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the tough, thick ligament that connects the front of your foot to your heel. This ligament acts as a shock absorber and takes on a lot of wear and tear.

Runners who try to do too much, too soon, are often plagued by plantar fasciitis. Physical therapy can improve the strength and flexibility of the plantar fascia to lower your risk of problems and help you recover from plantar fasciitis.

Runner’s Knee 

Runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral syndrome, is a common overuse injury that causes pain in the front of the knee, particularly around the kneecap. It occurs when the kneecap rubs against the thigh bone during movement. The condition can be caused by structural defects or certain walking patterns.

IT Band Syndrome

IT band syndrome is another overuse injury that affects runners. The iliotibial band, a thick band of tissue that runs along the outside of the thigh, becomes irritated and inflamed, causing pain on the outer side of the knee. It is often caused by repetitive bending and straightening of the knee, leading to friction between the IT band and the knee joint.

Hamstring Injuries

Hamstring injuries are common among runners and occur when the muscles at the back of the thigh become strained or torn. They can range from mild strains to severe tears and can cause pain, weakness, and limited mobility.

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains are another frequent occurrence in the running. They happen when the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn due to sudden movements or uneven terrain. Symptoms include swelling, pain, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected ankle.

Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

Running is a popular form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits. However, it's important to take precautions to prevent running injuries. Here are some tips:

Have a plan and progress slowly

Gradually increase your running mileage and intensity to allow your body to adapt and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

Don't increase speed and distance simultaneously

Avoid making simultaneous increases in speed and distance, as this can put excessive stress on your muscles and joint source.

Warm up before running

Perform a dynamic warm-up routine to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for the run source.

Cool down after running

Include a cool-down session with stretches to help your muscles recover and prevent tightness.

Strengthen your body

Incorporate strength training exercises into your weekly schedule to improve muscle strength and stability, reducing the risk of injuries.

Focus on form

Pay attention to your running form, maintain proper posture, and avoid excessive heel striking or overstriding sources.

Find the right shoes

Visit a professional running shoe store to get fitted for shoes that provide proper support and cushioning for your feet and running style source.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to any aches and pains. Rest and seek medical attention if you experience persistent or worsening discomfort.

Increase workload gradually

Avoid sudden increases in training volume or intensity to give your body time to adapt and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.

Stay consistent

Maintain a regular running schedule to build endurance and strengthen your muscles, reducing the risk of imbalances and injuries.

Why Choose Barrington Orthopedic Specialists?

The providers at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists understand how important it is to keep feet healthy in order to prevent recurring running injuries. We have an elite team of foot and ankle specialists which includes Dr. Lynette MahoneyDr. Raymond O’Hara, and Dr. Narendra Patel, our Podiatrist & Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Gina Cahill, orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, will be joining the group in September 2019. These physicians can help you stay on the track, trail, or field and off the bench.

Don't let overuse injuries slow you down. Call us at 847 285-4200 to schedule an appointment at one of our four convenient locations: Buffalo Grove, Bartlett, Elk Grove Village, and Schaumburg. You can also request an appointment here on our website.

For a specialized Runners Program Assessment, please call 847 885-0078. We’re here to support all of your orthopedic needs and keep you running strong and safe.

Frequently Asked Questions  

1. Can I prevent sports injuries while running?

Yes, you can prevent sports injuries while running by following proper training techniques, including gradual progression of mileage and intensity, incorporating strength training exercises, and listening to your body for any signs of discomfort. Wearing appropriate running shoes and maintaining proper form can also help prevent injuries.

2. How can I treat Achilles tendinitis?

Treatment for Achilles tendinitis may include rest, ice, physical therapy, and, in some cases, medication or surgery.  It's important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent pain in the Achilles tendon area.

3. How do I choose the right running shoes?

Choosing the right running shoes greatly depends on your individual foot structure and running style. You should visit a professional running shoe store for a fitting and analysis of your gait to determine the best type of shoe for you.  Ensuring proper fit, support, and cushioning can help prevent running injuries.

4. What should I do if I experience persistent pain or discomfort while running?

If you experience persistent pain or discomfort while running, it's important to rest and seek medical attention. Running through pain can lead to further running injury and prolong your recovery. Consult an orthopedic specialist or sports medicine physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.  You can schedule an appointment with us at  Barrington Orthopedic Specialists by calling 847-285-4200 or requesting an appointment through our website.