Common Running Injuries And How To Overcome Them
A big question I get a lot from readers and visitors to rundreamachieve.com is about running injuries.
I write about various topics from how you determine tempo run length to fueling properly for marathons but running injuries is something that is even closer to my heart because of having to deal with them myself personally over the years.
I hate hearing someone having to take time off due to an injury because runners are generally very high strung, focused people.
It isn’t easy for us to back off and relax. We get injured which is really the only way you can make most runners slow down.
The reason is I have been in the predicament of getting in great shape and then having to deal with a injury.
What do you do then and even more importantly what are some remedies to get over common running injuries?
I wanted to write an article on some of the running injuries I have dealt with over the past 21 years.
I hope you can take some ideas away from this bit of information, share it with your friends and family who may be suffering the same issues that you may be dealing with or have dealt with.
I competed for Malone University from 1996-2000 and in that time frame, I had to deal with three orthoscopic knee surgeries.
I dealt with patellar tendinitis throughout my high school years and through much of my collegiate years.
I vividly remember malone head coach Jack Hazen and 2012 London Olympics mens and women’s distance running head coach telling me, ‘Nate, what are going to do when you are my age?’
We couldn’t figure it out.
Cartilage kept breaking off in my knee and the doctors had to keep going in to remove it.
This happened twice on my left knee and once on my right knee.
I was a mess.
You start to ask yourself weird questions for such a young age..should I retire from running?.. is this what God wants for me?
Have you been there? I am sure you have in some fashion.
I was only in my early twenties but this kept happening.
Fortunately, I have not had to deal with any major issues since but have had, at times, strange sensations in my patellar tendon area that always makes me feel it has happened again.
The good thing about orthoscopic knee surgeries, especially when we are talking about floating bodies in the knee cap, is that it is a pretty quick procedure.
The three times I had it done I was on crutches for a few days and was able to start running again after about 4-6 weeks.
Running injuries throw you off your routine and many times cause muscle imbalances.
It is hard to take a break from it all when you get injured. You feel trapped, like there isn’t anything else you can do. You are a runner, if you have to get a knee surgery or you have severe plantar fasciatis, then what?
You have to be very cautious with this mainly because if you try to get back into training too quick another piece can break off.
How do I know?
The doctors had to go in again on my left knee because I was too impatient. I have learned my lesson. You cannot rush your body back to full health.
That is the beauty of how God created the human body. It will heal itself but you can still do things to assist the process, provided you have the patience.
If you have dealt with this running injury my heart goes out to you. The good thing (if there is one) about this particular injury is that you can run through it. The number one remedy for an ailment like this is to wear a patellar tendon strap.
What does a patellar tendon strap do?
It reduces the strain on the patellar tendon by changing the angle that the tendon inserts into the patella as well as the overall length of the patellar tendon. They are a great remedy and you can purchase them for under $20 on amazon.
One of the best things you can do is to ice the knee after your done running.
A great remedy rather then just filling up a bag of ice and sitting it on your knee is to fill up some styrofoam cups with water, place them in your freezer and once frozen you can peel off the sides.
You can massage your knee with the ice cups. It is a simple but effective way to combat patellar tendonitis irritation.
I found this to be one of the best remedies and alleviated the stress I was dealing with when I was trying to compete in high school and college.
Running injuries like this require a great deal of patience and tenacity.
They don’t go away on our time. The body will heal itself on it’s own time but you can quicken the recovery process by taking care of yourself and not waiting for the problem to worsen.
I would rank this as probably the absolute least favorite of the running injuries I have had to deal with over the years.
Have you experienced this injury in your own running?
It is one of the hardest running injuries to un through because it is located on the bottom of your foot. It doesn’t get much worse then that.
The plantar fascia is a thick tissue that lies under the foot. It connects the heel bone to your toes and creates the arch of your feet.
Causes of this running injury is having high arches, being overweight, poor shoe choices (probably why I got it years ago) to having tight achilles tendons or calfs.
I am not a medical professional and 100% of what I write is strictly from intense study of the body and exercise physiology but based on what I have experienced, rest, is the number one remedy.
Easier said then done.
When you are doing 100 mile weeks and then get a severe fascia inflammation and are forced to take a few days off it isn’t a welcome feeling. I battled with plantar fasciitis for 8 months when I was assigned to work at a NATO headquarters in Belgium.
I would take a week off, run a couple days, the fascia would get irritated again and the cycle continued. My only option was to take a month off or more. It took time.
I was training heavily to break the 2.22.00 marathon olympic trials standard.
This was a couple years before I was conditionally accepted into the Army World Class Athlete Program and was working full-time and just fitting in training when I could.
What do I recommend?
I highly recommend buying the strassburgh sock. I will tell you that wearing this ‘sock’ is not always comfortable but does take the strain of the fascia and will strengthen your arch the longer you wear it.
Does it hurt to wear?
No, but trying to wear it while you are sleeping is quite interesting.
It basically pulls your toes back and doesn’t allow the plantar fascia to contract, thus taking strain off the fascia and strengthening the arch.
Mueller also makes a great sock to consider as well.
I found it hard to sleep wearing the strassburgh sock, but I still consider it one of the best remedies for fascia issues.
If you want to read more check this out.
Running injuries like this make cringe.
I have had so many issues with my achilles tendon over the years I have lost count. I am thankful none in the past 3 years which is blessing.
I don’t think there are many runners out there who can say they have never had this injury and if you are one of the few I commend you.
Achilles tendinitis usually is caused by ramping up your mileage too quickly and not giving your achilles time to adjust to the volume or having tight calf muscles and continuing to run without getting treatment. This puts added stress on the tendon.
The number one remedy I recommend is icing. Take the styrofoam technique I mentioned above and use it religiously. I have spent countless hours massaging both my achilles tendons over the years using cups. It is a simple procedure.
Other considerations is lightly stretching your calf muscle (which ever is causing the issue). A Bilateral heel drop stretch is the number one stretch I would recommend to help with achilles tendinitis.
You can stand at the edge of a stair and gently let your body weight stretch the calf. Hold on to something so you can maintain your balance and not cause more injury to the tendon.
Repeat this stretch 10-20 times once or twice a week.
Ibuprofen can assist with inflammation but will not help with the degenerated achilles tendon.
Heel lifts can assist in taking the strain off your achilles. You can place them in your shoes. I have had to do this numerous times over the years although I didn’t feel much of a huge benefit using them.
That being said, everyone’s feet are designed differently. What shoes you are wearing, your arches, how you run among many other things can play a factor in how quickly you heal and how long you have to run with this particular inure.
Ruptured Plantaris Tendon
This is one injury, that I know of, many runners do not usually get but can be described as a gastroc (calf muscle) tear.
I suffered this injury at a very crucial time in my sophomore year at Malone University during the start of the track season and had to sit out the season due to it.
We were down in Gainesville, Florida doing our spring track and field training at the University of Florida.
Coach Hazen had driven us down in the Malone University bus for a 2-week stay at Camp McConnel about a 15 minute drive outside of downtown Gainesville.
We didn’t’ spend much time there but while there we stayed in makeshift buildings with bunk beds
I had one of the top bunks and every morning would jump down, despite trying to slow the speed of my fall to the concrete floor, each morning.
We then would either run or get bussed to downtown Gainesville to do track workouts on the University track.
I had to visit the doctors office as it was so painful by the time we got back to Canton, Ohio that I could not walk on it. I had to walk on crutches for weeks.
I hope you will never have to experience this injury in your life.
If you are a runner and deal with this. Do not even think of trying to run on it. You will not be able to and isn’t worth the agony.
This is a serious injury and it is, outside of the knee surgeries I had to undergo, the most painful injury I have ever encountered in my years of training and racing.
Simply take a few weeks off. There is no way around it and can take months to recover from.
In closing, one last remedy if you ever have to deal with running injuries like knee or achilles issues and shin splints to name a few, is to try pool running.
You take all the stress off of these tendons and hot spots and can mimic land running at the deep end of a pool.
You have the choice to wear a flotation device around your waste to help balance yourself as you run or you can try the much more difficult option of pool running on your own without the assistance of a flotation device.
Running injuries that deal with any part of the body that you need to work at full capability to run properly are some of the hardest obstacles to overcome. That being said, if you take some of the suggestions given above you will be much better off.
You can’t rush yourself back into full health. All you can do is give your body time to heal and try to take as much strain off the effected area as best as you can.
I truly hope some of what I have written will benefit you and help you to maintain motivation through your therapy and recovery. It is only a matter of time before you will be back on the roads, track or treadmill doing what you love most.
If you have experienced any of these injuries or others leave a comment and tell me what you did to get over them.