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Health and Fitness News

Running Free (of Injury)

Like your exercise to come with running shoes? Watch out for these common running injuries.

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise—and for good reason. It’s a great way to torch calories, lose weight, stay in shape, manage stress, and keep your heart healthy. On top of that, you can do it most anywhere, without expensive equipment.

With all these great benefits, it can be easy to overlook the fact that running comes with injury risks. Because it’s a high-impact workout, running often causes damage to your joints. Your knees are especially susceptible to damage caused by repetitive pounding on the pavement, but running can injure other parts of your legs and feet as well.

Wearing the right shoes, easing into running, cross training, and having rest days between runs go a long way in helping to prevent injury. No matter what precautions you take, be aware of the following injuries so you know when to slow down, get rest, and seek treatment to avoid worsening the problem.

Runner’s Knee

The medical name is patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), but it’s known by runners as “runner’s knee.” This common condition is due to irritation of the cartilage underneath the kneecap. Brought on by overuse, misalignment of your leg bones, the shape or pronation of your feet, or weak quadriceps (the muscle on the front of your thigh), runner’s knee causes pain, especially when you bend your knee.

Hamstring Injury

The hamstring muscle extends down the back of your thigh. When healthy, it allows your knee to bend and your leg to extend, while also giving you the power to kick or run uphill. When the quadricep muscle is a lot stronger than the hamstring or the hamstring is weak, too long from being overstretched, or too short from a lack of flexibility, the hamstring is at risk for injury. A strained hamstring causes sudden and severe pain while exercising. You may feel a snap or pop along the back of your thigh or lower buttock.

Achilles Tendonitis

An estimated 11 percent of running injuries are accounted for by achilles tendonitis. Your achilles tendon attaches your calf muscles to your heel. When stressed, the tendon becomes tight and irritated, causing tendonitis. Weak or tight calf muscles put you at risk, as does hill and speed training. Be suspicious of achilles tendonitis if there’s pain along the back of your heel that gets worse with exercise, the tendon feels especially painful or stiff the morning after exercise, or there’s swelling that worsens with activity.

Shin Splints

They’re known as shin splints, but the medical term is medial tibial stress syndrome. This painful condition comprises about 15 percent of all running injuries. Caused by tiny tears in the shin muscle surrounding the tibia bone, shin splints often occur when you run when out of shape, run too much too soon, wear unsupportive shoes, or have flat feet or high arches. Shin splints cause tenderness, soreness, pain, and possibly swelling along the inside of your shinbone. The pain is worse when you exercise.

Plantar Fasciitis

Your feet absorb the shock of each step, so it’s no wonder your feet suffer injury from running. Plantar fasciitis is caused by tiny tears in the tendons and ligaments that run from your heel to your toes along the bottom of your foot. The tears lead to inflammation and pain that’s often worse in the morning. Sometimes the pain feels like a dull ache along the arch of your foot or your heel. Flat feet, overpronation, underpronation, unsupportive shoes, weak core muscles, and tight hip flexors all increase your risk of plantar fasciitis.