(Baptist Health – By Valerie Forrest, PT, DPT at Baptist Therapy Center-Bryant) – Running can be an excellent activity for lowering blood pressure and improving heart and mental health. Whether you are new to running or an experienced runner, several common running injuries may keep you from enjoying your run. The three most common injuries are Runner’s Knee, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis.
1. Runner’s Knee
Nearly 40% of running injuries involve the knee. The most common is the runner’s knee, also called patellofemoral pain. Runner’s knee is characterized by pain under or around the kneecap and can be worse with running, squatting, stairs, jumping, or other repetitive activities. Weakness of thigh and hip muscles, the foot rolling inward when running, and overuse are all potential causes of patellofemoral pain.
2. Shin splints
When excessive stress is placed on the tibia (shin bone), the results can be very painful. This pain is called medial tibial stress syndrome, commonly known as shin splints. Symptoms may include aching during or after exercise, sharp pain when touching the tender area, and are typically worse with activity. Runners with a flat arch or overpronation, those with previous injuries, or those with a higher body mass index are more likely to experience shin splints.
3. Plantar Fasciitis
Up to 15% of runners may experience plantar fasciitis, and it is the most common running injury involving the foot. Plantar fasciitis symptoms are typically described as pain along the bottom of your foot that is frequently worse when taking the first steps in the morning, after long periods of activities on your feet, and with intense exercise, including running and jumping. In addition, flat feet, poor calf muscle flexibility, a sudden increase in length or intensity of activities, and improper footwear may contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis.
Injuries can be frustrating, but they don’t have to stop you from enjoying a run when appropriately treated. Simple at-home treatments, including ice and rest, can help to reduce symptoms. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, it may be time to contact your doctor. Physicians frequently refer people with running injuries to physical therapy. A physical therapist can identify and treat the most common running injuries and get you back to activity.