How to Easily Combat Running Related Injuries and Boost Energy

Spring is upon us and in conjunction with those inevitable April showers comes the time of year when runners, both novice and experts, decide to hit the pavement.  Running provides a myriad of health benefits to those who decide to engage in the activity.  One of the main benefits is the reduction of weight.  Even after the run is complete the calories continue to burn.  Scientists refer to this “after burn” as EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption).  Additional advantages include the release of endorphins which improves mood and sharpens focus.  Jogging also strengthens not only your heart but can help strengthen knee joints by increasing bone mass.  Do not feel that you have to run 30 minutes a day and 5 days a week.  Research shows that running as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day can provide health benefits as opposed to doing absolutely no exercise at all.   We are devoting this blog post to those who enjoy both the stress relief and health benefits obtained from running.  But what are some of the disadvantages to this exercise and how can running related injuries be prevented?  Well read on to address some of the most common issues and various treatment options for runners.


Achilles tendonitis  

achilles tendonWhat is Achilles tendonitis?  The Achilles tendon is a fibrous band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.  The suffix “itis” means inflammation in medical terminology; therefore, Achilles tendonitis is simply inflammation of the Achilles tendon.  Symptoms of an Achilles injury typically begin gradually.  There may be a dull ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or even just walking.  The pain may increase in severity upon climbing stairs or with prolonged running.  In addition, a rapid increase in the amount and intensity of your activity can lead to a tendon injury.  Also, remember that failing to properly stretch the calf muscles can place tremendous pressure on the Achilles tendon resulting in an injury.  Inappropriate and unsupportive shoe wear can strain and add burden the Achilles tendon over time. 


Conservative treatment of Achilles tendonitis includes simply resting, icing and gentle stretches to help relieve immediate symptoms.  Orthotics like shoe inserts provides a lift to the heel in combination with making certain you have appropriate shoes for running can aide in advoiding injuries. Finally, always listen to your body and do not push yourself to the point of injury.  Tendons can also rupture or tear.  In these instances of a more severe injury, prolonged casting and/or surgery may be recommended to repair the tendon. 


Plantar Fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis imagePlantar is the medical word for the bottom or sole of the foot.  Fascia is a band of tissue which, in this instance, connects the heel bone to the toes and we learned above that “itis” refers to inflammation.  So the term plantar fasciitis refers to inflammation of the tendon at the sole of the foot.  The condition is not only limited to runners; however, since there is a great deal of force placed on the feet during this activity, it makes this particular injury a common occurrence. 


Similar to Achilles tendonitis, the importance of both proper stretching and shoe wear cannot be stressed enough to aide in prevention of plantar fasciitis.  Our office carries a wide selection of Tuli’s Heel Cups.  The Tuli’s are inserted into the shoe to provide stability, cushioning, and alignment for the heel. 

 PFJoint image

Runner’s Knee/ Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome 

The largest joint in your body is the knee.  Extensive running can place a great deal of stress on this joint resulting in severe knee pain.  Patellofemoral pain occurs in the soft tissues around the knee or even below the fat pad of the patella or knee cap.  The pain can be caused by several conditions and is usually most intense when running either up or downhill and climbing stairs.  There may also be mild swelling and/or popping and grinding of the knee.  These symptoms are similar to other orthopedic injuries such as an ACL injury or a meniscal tear.   The importance of an accurate diagnosis is imperative for an appropriate treatment plan for your knee pain. 


Treatment depends upon the diagnosis and the severity of the patient’s pain.  Simple home remedies Knee bracesuch as over the counter anti-inflammatories and incorporating the RICE plan (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) may be all that is required.  The condition may necessitate DMEs (durable medical equipment) to resolve symptoms.  Devices such as a chopat strap or knee brace may be recommended to help stabilize the knee. 


In closing, remember to avoid running/exercise related injuries by always being certain to warm up prior to any cardio-related exercise and cool down with gentle stretches, wear the appropriate shoe for your sport and contour of your foot, gradually increase activity over time, try to maintain a healthy weight, and train accordingly to your body type and age.  Exercise related injuries do not need to bench you from activities you enjoy.  Once an injury occurs and if simple home remedies fail to alleviate your pain, make certain to visit your orthopedist or call and schedule an appointment with either Dr. Elliott Hinkes or Dr. Bruce Fletcher here in our office for evaluation and a treatment plan. 


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