Most Common Ailments of Runners: Identifying Your Pain

| Well Being

A runner's high is one of the most euphoric feelings in the world, and a great run can really set the mood for the rest of the day. Unfortunately many of our runs aren't as enjoyable as we would wish! Especially now that we have a kid or two under our belt, as well as more years than we would care to admit, running may occasionally cause more pain than pleasure. Exercise can cause its fair share of wear and tear, so knowing how to identify your pain is key to keeping your body safe and healthy! Take a look below at the most common injuries of runners to learn how to recognize and avoid any lasting damage!

>> Read more: 9 Tips to Become a Better Runner

knee pain

Runner's knee: We all know that running, especially long distances, can wreak havoc on our knees! Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), more commonly referred to as runner's knee, is an especially painful condition where the kneecap rubs against the thighbone and creates unpleasant friction. You may develop sharp, dull or chronic pain that may come and go, regardless of whether you are in motion. It often appears during long runs or after you have been stagnant for a long period of time.

Runner's knee occurs because of weak quadriceps, hips and glutes, and is most frequent in runners who possess excessive inward foot-rolling tendencies. While you can try to run through it, we recommend completing a couple exercises that will go a long way in strengthening and toning your quads, hips and glutes. Try out these intensified lungeship abductions, and butterfly bridges to build your strength!

Tendonitis: Runners are prone to tendonitis, especially Achilles tendonitis. Eleven percent of runners actually suffer from this injury, so make sure you keep an eye out! According to Runner's World, the Achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles at the base of the heel. When the tendon experiences too much stress, it tightens and becomes inflamed. It typically occurs in runners who have increased their amount of training, or in people who have weaker calf muscles.

Tendonitis can be incredibly painful, so if you feel as if you may have strained your tendons, it is important that you take a break from running! A small sprain can quickly morph into a much more serious injury, so taking it easy for a couple days is probably the best course of action! We suggest applying ice a couple times a day, and once the tendonitis has healed, try strengthening your calves with a couple basic exercises. We recommend these 23 Leg Exercises for Beach Ready Legs!

Plantar fasciitis: This particular ailment is the top foot complaint among runners everywhere, and it is no wonder! Plantar fasciitis consists of a series of small tears or inflammations in the tendons and ligaments that stretch from the heels to the toes. It is wildly uncomfortable, especially for those who are on their feet for hours at a time, since it feels like a bruise along your arch or the bottom of your heel. It affects runners who have high or low arches, or whose feet roll inward or outward during runs.

You can prevent plantar fasciitis by stretching out your foot by using a foam roller and icing it after your run. Unfortunately, if you wind up with plantar fasciitis the best cure is to stop running altogether. The added weight will only make the pain worse. It will typically heal within three months to a year (averaging about six months), so in the meantime you may want to explore some other interests! Try taking a look at Fun vs Fitness: Get the Best of Both Worlds for some ideas on what you could explore instead of running!

shin splints
(Photo: Boston Magazine)

Shin splints: Nearly every runner out there has experienced that debilitating jolt of pain stemming from their shins. Shin splints are way too common, and way too uncomfortable to ignore! Small tears in the muscles surrounding the tibia (or shin bone) cause what is referred to as medial tibial stress syndrome, and the result can be pretty darn irritating. This condition occurs most frequently in people who are new to running, or who have taken a hiatus and are trying to reincorporate their daily jog back into their schedule.

While you should not run through the pain, you can try backing off on your speed until the ache subsides. Shin splints are a sign that you have attempted to go too hard and too quickly, so adjust your pace. You can slowly increase the speed and distance of your workout over the next couple weeks, in order to allow your body to adjust. Rest, ice, pop some mild painkillers, and repeat for optimal results! You can also try to find a shoe designed for your workout that will help alleviate shin splints.

Stress fracture: Now we're not talking about the time you accidentally tripped on the stairs and fractured your arm; a stress fracture occurs as a result of cumulative strain on your bones. Runners especially develop stress fractures in their feet, in places like their shin, metatarsals, and heels. They can be incredibly painful and serious, so if you believe you might have a stress fracture it is essential that you reach out to a professional for assistance. Stress fractures commonly frequent runners who are prone to overtraining. You always hear about how your muscles need time to recover after a workout, but so do your bones! Women are more susceptible to stress fractures than men, because of factors like nutritional deficiencies, low estrogen levels, and inadequate calorie intake, so be on the lookout, ladies!

The typical recovery time for stress fractures is two to four months, during which you should not attempt to run! Once your foot feels fine when you walk, you can try some light jogging, but until that point is essential that you rest up. It is also important for you to make sure you are consuming a healthy diet that contains a good amount of substance. Starving yourself is going to cause more issues that a stress fracture, so make sure you are eating enough of the good stuff! We also recommend sticking to a workout routine to keep yourself strong. You can try these Workouts that Burn More Calories that Running by clicking here.

woman running headphones

Above all, remember to listen to your body. We know it can be tempting to push yourself as hard and as far as you can go, but that can be detrimental to your physical health! Your body needs time to adjust and recover, even if you have been running your whole life. Learn to take a deep breath every now and then, and cut yourself some slack! You can also check out our sources to learn more: WebMDRunner's World, Competitor.com