How to avoid running injuries

Posted 1/21/2016

A highly successful edition of the Mumbai Marathon is now behind us. This event saw the enthusiastic participation of thousands of health conscious runners. Appropriate training and D-day precautions ensure an injury free run for most people. However, there are nagging problems in many runners, which should receive attention if they persist for a long time.

Let’s see what are the most common injuries in runners:

 1.    Ankle sprain – Twisting of the ankle may lead to pain and swelling, and if not attended to immediately, may last for quite some time.

How to avoid : Watch out for potholes, uneven sidewalks, and broken stuff,eg. branches, on your running trail. Run on even and firm (not hard/ not soft) surfaces if possible. Develop proper running technique, so that you foot lands on the ground in the right fashion.

2.    Runner’s knee – Pain over the front of the knee, around the knee cap. This occurs frequently due to running on hard surfaces, running downhill and weak hip muscles.

How to avoid: Wear shoes appropriate to you foot type, and with adequate cushioning to prevent transmission of high stresses to your knees. A regular muscle strengthening program involving the hip muscles should improve balance and avoid abnormal knee strain.

3.    Achilles tendinitis – This is injury of the Achilles tendon on the back of the heel, one of the strongest muscle-tendon complexes in the body.

How to avoid: Follow a proper stretching regimen before and after running, EVERYTIME. If you are a novice, start off by running at a comfortable pace, and gradually increase speed.

4.    Plantar fasciitis – Pain over the heel, which is especially more in the morning, leading to a throbbing sensation in the foot.

How to avoid: Ensure that your footwear has adequate cushioning. Replace your regular running shoes after every 400 to 800 km or around 9 to 12 months.

5.    Shin splints – Aching sensation over the front of the leg, especially while running uphill or on a hard surface.

How to avoid: Select proper shoes, eg. neutral, stability or motion control shoes. Buy shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are largest. The heel counter – the back of the shoe around your heel – should fit snugly in a stable manner. Avoid sudden increases in distance or intensity of training.

6.    Stress fracture – This occurs commonly in the foot and leg due to the repeated stress of running. It is similar to a hairline fracture, and may manifest as a nagging pain which does not go away even with medicines.

How to avoid: Have a calcium rich diet to keep bones strong. Try cross-training, with a combination of resistance training, running and another sport that you enjoy (eg. swimming, badminton, tennis, etc.)

7.    IT band syndrome – This is a band running on the outer side of the thigh, from the hip to the knee. There is stabbing pain along this border. It occurs due to following a fixed running path in one direction only.

How to avoid: Follow a proper warmup and stretching protocol before every run, followed by cool down and stretching after the run. Hit the gym to strengthen muscles in the buttocks, thighs, knees and legs. Run to and fro in both directions along your path.

8.    Back pain – This can occur due to poor running form, and weak back and abdomen muscles.

How to avoid: Core strengthening exercises (eg. pull-ups, chin ups, push ups, planks, crunches) will ensure that you have appropriate balance.

How to avoid running injuries
How to avoid running injuries