Help With Running Injuries
One of the many areas that a good foot doctor can help is the prevention and treatment of running injuries. If you love the feel of the open road under your feet, chances are good that you will have experienced some pain at one point or another. Perhaps you have had a specific foot injury caused by running, or maybe you have been finding it harder than usual to avoid pain in the foot after a run. Whatever the case, you can learn more on how to prevent and treat some of the most common running related injuries that affect the lower limbs, so that your runs remain enjoyable rather than painful.
Before we go into further detail on the types of injuries that can occur during or after running, it is important to understand what we mean when we talk about running injuries in the foot. If you have an uneven gait, or an issue in your foot or leg that you already know about, and is under control, chances are good that you either have special running shoes or orthotics that fit into your shoe to help you run. A newly healed broken limb, general sore foot, plantar wart or similar type of problem is not usually considered to be an injury specific to running as these can happen to anyone – non-runners and runners included.
An injury that is more likely to either be caused or worsened by running however, or a specific problem that affects your ability to run is slightly different. This is what we refer to as a running related injury, as it is specific to the movements that your feet and legs make during the run.
Common Foot Injuries for Runners
With that said, what are the most common foot injuries that can affect runners? Here are the top five injuries (and how they care caused):
- Plantar Fasciitis. While this injury is not only experienced by runners, it is without a doubt a common thing within the running world. Simply put, this injury is an inflammation in the bottom of the foot. It causes a sharp, tight and very painful sensation at the base of the heel that can be anything from mildly painful to very painful. There are a number of potential factors that could cause this condition, including a high foot arch OR FLAT FOOT, tension in the muscle underneath the foot and even poorly fitting shoes.
- Achilles TendONUSUS. Another common FOOT INJURY AND as the name implies, is all in the Achilles tendon – the band of TISSUE at the back of your heel. As the feet and lower part of the legs are far away from the heart, blood does not flow very easily in that area. This can make healing time for this injury somewhat slow, but trying to risk a run while you are healing is not advised as it can cause serious damage. This area can become DEGENERATED from over-use, strain, too-hard surfaces or a fall.
- ITB FRICTION Syndrome. The iliotibial band (ITB) is a FIBROUS SHEETH that connects the knee to the hip. When this area is inflamed, the result is ITB FRICTION syndrome (ITBFS). Typical causes can include downhill runs, always running on the same side of the road and other running practices that put strain on only one side of the knee. The pain can be quite severe, with some runners comparing it to being stabbed in the side of the knee as you run. Needless to say, it is frustrating when you are trying to finish a run, but left unchecked, it can cause even more problems.
- Runner’s Knee. If you have a constant achy feeling under your kneecap when you are running, you may have runner’s knee. The technical term for this is patellofemoral knee syndrome, but what you need to know is that it will get worse if you keep running when you have this pain. There are various possible causes, but for the most part, it is caused by a lack of recovery in the tissue around the knee between runs. In other words, this can happen when you are training too hard, too often, without sufficient rest.
- Shin Splints. This term is often used to describe any pain in the shin area, and runners know the feeling all too well. At best, this pain can be annoying for a while before it fades with a bit of TLC. At worst however, you could be at risk of stress fractures, which of course CAN take a lot more time and effort to heal. One of the main causes is an increase in running, an increase in pace or an increase in intensity. If you have suddenly started fast-tracking your training, you may find that your shins pay the price. This is why it is best to work up to increasing your runs gradually, so that your legs are able to withstand the increase in pace and intensity.
Prevention and Treatment of Foot Injuries for Runners
Now that you know more about the most common foot injuries from running, how do you go about treating them? Better still, how can you prevent feet injuries during running?
THE BEST WAY OF PREVENTING RUNNING INJURIES IS TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE IN THE CORRECT RUNNING SHOES AND THAT THEY FIT PROPERLY. I STONGLY SUGGEST THAT IF ANY INDIVIDUAL IS CONSIDERING EXERCISING MORE WHICH INCLUDES RUNNING, TO FIRST HAVE AN ASSESSMENT WITH A PODIATRIST TO GUIDE THE INDIVIDUAL IN WHAT TYPE OF SHOES TO PURCHASE. THIS COULD SAVE YOU ON MONEY WHEN BUYING THE INCORRECT SHOES, AND MOST DEFINITELY AID IN PREVENTING INJURY.
One of the most tried and tested treatment options to rest, ice and elevate the affected area to relieve the initial pain and swelling. For almost any injury in fact, your first course of action should be to stop running and rest the foot. It is best to seek professional help from a podiatrist or foot specialist rather than trying to guess what is wrong.
Stretches and aids such as orthotics may also help. Your foot doctor will advise you on the best treatment for your specific injury, and recommend whether further action such as surgery is required. For the most part, if you follow your doctor’s orders and rest it out, surgery should not be necessary. Massage, foam rolling, anti-inflammatory medication and pain pills can all help too. Changing your running habits may be needed in some cases, and a gait analysis or biomechanical assessment might help a great deal in identifying any potential areas for improvement.
Have a running injury that is causing your pain? Contact our podiatry clinic today to schedule an appointment, and we will help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible.