If you're like most people, you probably run to maintain mental clarity and relieve stress; however, Haim Cohen DPM, a podiatrist at the TriHealth Orthopedic and Spine Institute, says if you don't take your regimen seriously, you may end up adding stress to your life – in the form of an overuse injury.
2 Injuries Runners Commonly Face
#1: Stress Fractures
Everyone, even walkers, is at risk for developing a stress fracture, which is a break in the bone that happens with repeated injury or stress. As pressure on your bone increases, the bone fatigues and it breaks.
“Anyone who walks can develop a stress fracture. You don’t have to be unhealthy or have medical problems,” Dr. Cohen points out.
Symptoms: A stress fracture usually leads to pain and swelling early on. However, typically, for the first two to four weeks, you aren’t even able to see a stress fracture on an X-ray, Dr. Cohen says.
Treatment: An X-ray may not show there is a stress fracture for up to four to six weeks after the fracture occured, so your doctor may order a bone scan or MRI to help diagnose it. Since a stress fracture is a break in the bone, treatment requires a significant amount of rest (usually at least six to eight weeks) for it to heal. Most of the time a walking boot will be prescribed for protection. "Stress fractures will take people out of their sporting activities for quite some time," Dr. Cohen explains.
#2: Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot is overstretched or overused.
“We all have a broadband of connective tissue, called the plantar fascia,” Dr. Cohen explains. "With every step you take, you put pressure on those bands of tissues. You can put strain and stress upon the plantar fascia, pulling against the heel, which ultimately will cause microscopic tears.”
Symptoms: If you have plantar fasciitis, you will probably experience pain when you first wake up in the morning and after periods of rest. However, symptoms vary. "I have patients who are in my office crying and I have patients who are in my office who've had it for 10 years and just want to know what the pain is," Dr. Cohen says.
Treatment: Those with plantar fasciitis usually deal with the symptoms for several weeks to a month before they'll come in seeking treatment because it's something many people can tolerate early on. Initially, you'll need to temporarily discontinue running and spend time resting the foot. You'll also need to alter your activities and focus on maximizing stretching activities, which your doctor will recommend. Your doctor may prescribe an orthotic, a fitted support or brace, for your foot and you'll probably need to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines, like Aspirin or ibuprofen.
Staving off Running Injuries: How Can I do it?
#1: Have a Good Training Program
When you sign up for a race – whether it’s a 5K, 10k or marathon – you need to make sure your body is properly prepared. Consult a trained professional, like experts at a local running store, if you plan to train on your own, or join a running group.
If you train on your own, without any advice from an expert, you might exert your body too much, too quickly. “These people don’t really season up their feet and they fall into these problems, like plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, stress fractures – things like that – that can really put you out of commission,” Dr. Cohen explains.
#2: Wear the Right Shoes
There’s a huge variety of running shoes to pick from these days, ranging from minimalist to very supportive. If you’re looking to start running or have never been fitted for an appropriate pair of shoes, have a trained professional fit you for a style that works best for your foot size and running or walking stride. “You have to maximize the support,” Dr. Cohen points out.