Print This Page SparkPeople

5 Common Running and Walking Injuries

How to Prevent and Treat Pain from Running and Walking
  -- By Megan Patrick, Staff Writer
Both running and walking are simple ways to get a great cardiovascular workout with no equipment beyond a sturdy pair of athletic shoes. But these common activities can lead to pain and injury if you're not careful. Here are five of the most common issues suffered by runners and walkers, how to prevent them and how to soothe the pain they can cause.
 
 
ITB Syndrome
           
What is ITB syndrome?
The Iliotibial Band (ITB or IT Band) is the thick band of fibrous tissue (fascia) that runs on the lateral side of your leg from your hip to your knee. ITB syndrome, common among runners, walkers and cyclists, occurs when the IT Band becomes irritated and inflamed as a result of overuse.
 
What are the symptoms of ITB syndrome?
Pain at the outside part of the knee (or less commonly at the outer part of the hip) is a common symptom. The pain usually occurs at the middle or end of a run (or ride), and is more intense on hills, stairs or inclines. It can cause a popping in the knee or snapping of the hip as well. 
 
What causes ITB syndrome?
Some common causes of ITB syndrome include one:  
What can be done to ease the pain of ITB syndrome? If pain continues for more than two weeks and the above treatments do not resolve it, see your doctor to rule out other factors that may be causing the problem.
 
Plantar Fasciitis
 
What is plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is the thick band of fibrous tissue (fascia) that attaches the bottom of the heel bone to the toes. The purpose of the plantar fascia is to absorb shock and support the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of this tissue, caused by repetitive stretching and tearing. 
 
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Experiencing pain with the first few steps you take each morning that seems to lessen with movement is a common symptom. However, the area usually becomes painful again with prolonged standing or walking.
 
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Some common causes of plantar fasciitis include: What can be done to ease the pain of plantar fasciitis?
Treatment is most successful when started as soon as the symptoms and pain first occur. If treatment is limited or postponed, the condition can become chronic (it may lead to a bone spur) and much more difficult to treat. Typical treatment includes:
  If the pain does not lessen with these treatments or if the pain has been presents for months then you should see a doctor. 
 
Shin Splints
           
What are shin splints?
Shin splints (also known as tibial stress syndrome) are a not a single medical condition, but a symptom of one of several underlying problems.
 
What are the symptoms of shin splints?
The dull pain of shin splints causes the front of the shin to ache, either chronically or only during exercise.
 
What causes shin splints?
Some common causes of shin splints include:  
The underlying issues that lead to shin splints include: What can be done to ease the pain of shin splints?  
Achilles Tendinopathy
           
What is Achilles tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy refers to both Achilles tendinitis (an inflamation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf to the heel bone) and Achilles tendinosis (tiny tears in and around the tendon). While many doctors refer to all Achilles pain as tendinopathy, tendinosis is actually much more common.
 
What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy?
Pain and swelling in the ankle are the most common symptoms. The pain can range from mild to severe and may only happen upon running or walking. The ankle may also become weak and inflexible.
 
What causes Achilles tendinopathy?
Some common causes of Achilles tendinopathy: What can be done to ease the pain of Achilles tendinopathy?
It can take week or months for the Achilles tendon to repair itself. Typical treatments include: Sprains and Strains
 
What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
Both sprains and strains are painful injuries that involve stretching or tearing, but sprains involve ligaments (which connect two bones together at a joint), while strains involve muscles or tendons (which connect muscles to bones).
 
What causes a sprain or strain?
Falling, twisting or getting hit can force a joint out of its normal position, causing a ligament to be stretched or torn. The most commonly sprained area of the body is the ankle, but wrists, knees and even fingers can be sprained. A strain is usually caused by a violent contraction, excessive force or other excessive use of an injured part of the body (such as repetitive motion that causes pain). 
 
What are the symptoms of a sprain or strain?
Both sprains and strains present with pain, inflammation and, sometimes, bruising. 
 
What can be done to ease the pain of a sprain?
Recovering from a sprain or strain varies in duration from days to weeks. 
 
Initial treatment of either injury should be RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). If the sprain or strain is severe, the area should be immobilized. Once swelling has subsided, range of motion exercises should begin, followed by strengthening exercises. Return to sports should not occur until there is no swelling and pain is not present with activity. The "no pain, no gain" philosophy will only prolong the injury. If severe pain or swelling persists for more than a week, you should see your doctor. You may need an X-ray to rule out a break or fracture.
 
For the most serious sprains and strains, you may need to seek professional physical therapy to fully heal the injury and prevent a reoccurrence.
 
This article has been reviewed and approved by Jen Mueller, Certified Personal Trainer and Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist.
 
Sources
Khaund, Razib, M.D., Flynn, Sharon H., M.D. "Illiotibial Band Syndrom: A Common Source of Knee Pain," American Family Physician, 2005 Apr 15;71(8):1545-1550.
 
WebMD, "Understanding Sprains and Strains," www.webmd.com, accessed on April 18, 2013.
 
WebMD, "Shin Splints," www.webmd.com, accessed on April 18, 2013.
 
WebMD, "Achilles Tendon Problems," www.webmd.com, accessed on April 18, 2013.