Three Common Springtime Injuries For Runners & How To Prevent Them!

by Proclinix, May 1, 2019

By: Rachel Amarosa, ATC

Are you taking your workout outdoors now that winter is over? Before you hit the pavement or trail, here are some injury prevention tips to keep you running outside instead of running to your doctor’s office.

Like with any new or “it’s been a while” workout, it is always best to progress gradually.  Even if you have kept up with your treadmill running over the winter, running outside has its own variables – specific elements that you simply can not train for while indoors such as uneven terrain, hills, and wind resistance.

So let’s get into it! What are the three most common injuries for runners? The answer is: Patellar Tendonitis, Achilles Tendinitis, & Plantar Fasciitis.  Patellar Tendonitis, also known as Jumper’s Knee, is a common injury or inflammation of the tendon that connects your patella (kneecap) to your tibia (shin bone). Patellar Tendonitis is an overuse injury that can occur in runners due to tight quadricep muscles (muscles on the front of your thigh) and / or from excessive running.  Signs and symptoms of Patellar Tendonitis include pain, swelling, and irritation. It may become more painful at the beginning of your run or after an intense workout, Eventually, it can be painful or difficult to stand up from a chair or to ambulate stairs. A comprehensive lower body stretching and strengthening program will help prevent this type of injury, making sure that your quadricep muscle and the other surrounding muscles have the right balance between flexibility and strength.

Another common running injury is Achilles Tendinitis. The Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel.  Achilles tendinitis most commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs. Increasing your distance everyday and not giving your body enough time to adjust can lead to irritation of the tendon.  Other symptoms are pain, swelling and / or stiffness along the Achilles or back of the heel area. To prevent this type of injury, it is best to increase distance or intensity of your runs gradually and to warm up properly. A calf stretching and eccentric strengthening program will help prevent further and future injury to your calf and tendon.

Last but not least, Plantar Fasciitis.  Your Plantar Fascia is a weblike ligament that connects from the heel of your foot to the front of your foot, near the base of your toes.  The Plantar Fascia helps support the arch of your foot and generally experiences a lot of wear and tear in our daily lives by simply walking. Plantar Fasciitis is a common orthopedic complaint and occurs when the ligament becomes inflamed due to being overweight, high arches, flat feet, or running for long periods of time. Overtraining or neglecting to stretch your calf muscles can predispose you to having Plantar Fasciitis as well.  It can be characterized as having heel / foot pain, stiffness, swelling, or tenderness. Prevention techniques for Plantar Fasciitis include stretches for the plantar fascia, achilles, and calf, along with strengthening the lower leg and small muscles in your foot. In some cases, custom orthotics are recommended to take pressure off the Plantar Fascia and to help support the arch.

If you start to have pain and swelling in any one of these areas, it is recommended to see a healthcare professional, such as a Physical Therapist, to reduce the pain, swelling, and irritation. Your Physical Therapist would instill a comprehensive stretching and strengthening program and perform an assessment of your lower body alignment to see if you would benefit from orthotics.  At ProClinix, we will also integrate other treatments and healthcare services to ensure a complete and efficient recovery. Incorporating Active Release Techniques, Graston Technique, Massage Therapy, and/or Acupuncture with your Physical Therapy will help break up any scar tissue or adhesions, promote circulation, and realign the fibers for a faster recovery.

The best strategy to prevent these types of injuries is to go slow, incorporate a regular stretching and strengthening regime, plan out a modest / achievable running program, and to listen to your body!