The benefits we get from running are numerous; however, just like with any other physical activity, there is a possibility you might get injured. The good news is that most of these injuries can be prevented or treated so that you can start running again in no time.
1. The runner’s knee (patellofemoral syndrome)
If you run or play any sport that involves running, you might develop the runner’s knee. This term refers to a dull pain in one or both knees that intensifies whenever you exercise or sit with your knees bent for a prolonged amount of time. Runner’s knee can be caused by overuse, uneven or hard running surfaces, or even unsupportive shoes. If you start to feel pain in your knee, you should rest immediately and put ice on it to decrease inflammation. It is also a good idea to work on your tight and hip muscles because that can help prevent this injury.
2. Achilles tendinitis
If you feel pain at the back of your ankle, it could be Achilles tendinitis – inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Symptoms include pain, swelling, as well as a limited range of motion.
There are numerous things that can cause Achilles tendinitis, such as overuse, running on hard surfaces, unsupportive shoes, and bad running form; however, this injury most commonly happens when you increase the intensity of running or the mileage. When the injury occurs, you should rest, ice and massage the painful area and visit a doctor. If you ignore it and continue with your training, there is a risk that your tendon might rupture, which can then be fixed only with surgery.
3. Greater trochanter bursitis of the hip
Bursa is a sac filled with liquid that enables you to bend and straighten the leg without any friction or pain. Without this, we wouldn’t be able to walk or run properly. When this bursa becomes inflamed, you start to feel pain in the area where your leg attaches to the hip. Again, this injury can be caused by overuse, but it can also be caused if you fall directly on your hip while running. A bad running form is also one of the common causes, so you should always try to correct that. If you start feeling this kind of pain, you should rest and straighten the hip muscles. You can also ice the area to decrease inflammation.
4. Iliotibial band (IT band) syndrome
On the lateral side of your thigh, there is the iliotibial band – a band of tissue that connects the hip and the knee. Runners tend to have a very tight IT band, and if your hip or gluteal muscles are weak, the IT band rubs against your leg bone when you run. If this happens for a prolonged amount of time, it becomes painful. The pain is usually located on the outer side of your leg, above the knee. Weak hip and gluteal muscles can cause this injury, but it can also occur if you always tend to run in circles in the same direction. You should work on strengthening the muscles, and not forget to stretch!
A foam roller can be very helpful when you need to stretch your hips and glutes. You also might want to consider modifying your exercise for a while. If you ignore this problem, your IT band can become lengthened, which is a serious injury that requires surgery.