Common Springtime Running Injuries

By: Shaina McQuilkie, B.Kin., D.C.
Spring is right around the corner and this may mean that you’re anxiously awaiting your first outdoor run. For some of you, this means heading out for your first run of the year, and for others it means making the transition from treadmill running to trail or road running [1]. But, before you head out, you should know that your risk of injury increases with a change of environment [2].
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There are numerous injuries that you can suffer when running in the spring, so we’ll keep it simple and discuss some of the most common:


  • Achilles tendinitis – if you’re suffering from this condition, you’re likely experiencing pain and stiffness down the back of your heel (where the Achilles tendon is located) that increases when you run. In severe cases, you may even notice swelling of the tendon. If you’ve heard a sudden “pop” at the back of your heel, it’s possible that you’ve suffered an Achilles tendon rupture - it’s important to seek medical attention immediately if this occurs. Achilles tendinitis tends to occur in runners that do too much too soon [2].


  • Plantar fasciitis – if you’re suffering from this condition you’re likely experiencing pain, usually in the heel area, and swelling. The plantar fascia is a tight band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes; straining the plantar fascia can result in small tears, which ultimately leads to symptoms. Plantar fasciitis usually occurs in individuals that have flat feet or high arches, that are overweight, that have feet that roll inwards excessively, and in those that run for extended periods of time [2].


  • Patellar tendinitis – if you’re suffering from this condition you’re likely experiencing pain between your patella (kneecap) and tibia (shinbone), that may only become painful once you start running. Over time, you’ll have difficulty climbing stairs and standing up from a chair. Patellar tendinitis typically occurs due to excessive running that leads to strain, irritation and swelling of the knee joint [2].


The good news is that you can prevent a springtime running injury by following a few simple tips [3,4]:


  • Ease into it – this is probably the most important tip as running outdoors requires your body to adapt to various elements including different terrain, wind resistance, etc. These factors require increased oxygen consumption from your body so it may be difficult to maintain the same pace and distance as treadmill running, slow it down and let your body adapt. Also, allow enough rest time in between runs so your body can repair itself. Easing into it will allow your body to build bone, muscle and tendon strength and help to prevent injury.


  • Hydrate – drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially on days leading up to a longer run to help prevent cramping of your feet and leg muscles.


  • Warm up your muscles – before heading out for a long run, slowly warm up with a brisk walk and some leg stretches, pay particular attention to your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and iliotibial (IT) band. This will help to prepare your muscles for the physical activity that they’re about to endure.


  • Pay attention – being aware of your surroundings, as well as your running surface and body mechanics can help to prevent injuries, especially ankle sprains.


  • Footwear – check your shoes with the changing seasons, when your shoes start to break down, they don’t provide adequate support. Wearing properly fitted running shoes, that are supportive and cushioned, will help to prevent injury.


  • Cool your muscles down – after a run, stretch out your muscles to help to prevent muscle tightness in your legs.


  • Ice it – if you’re feeling achy and sore, ice the area to help reduce inflammation and tenderness.


  • Strengthen up – strengthening the muscles of your hips, knees, and ankles can help to minimize wear and tear on your joints and minimize your risk of injury.
  1. References
1. Spring running - listen to your body and get outdoors with these 5 tips. Chiropractic. Accessed January 23, 2017.
2. Melone L, CSCS. The 3 injuries you’re most likely to get this spring. Cardio. Accessed January 25, 2017.
3. Springtime running injury prevention - JAG physical therapy. Blog. Accessed January 23, 2017.
4. Get ready for spring! Tips to keep you running healthy - fleet feet sports West Hartford. Accessed January 25, 2017.
This article, and the products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please see your health care provider before taking any supplements or starting a new program.

Shaina is a practicing chiropractor and freelance medical writer, based in Stoney Creek, Ontario.

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