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A Runner's Guide to Injury Prevention

How Runners Can Prevent and Treat Common Injuries

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If you love running as much as I do, you know how frustrating it is when an injury puts the activity you enjoy on hold. Many runners face injury at one time or another, which isn't surprising, given the strain that running can put on your joints. There are a few common injuries you might encounter during your running career, and although it's not always possible to prevent a problem from happening, there are things you can do to prevent and reduce your risk of injury in the future. Here is a rundown of four common running injuries, along with some general tips to staying injury-free no matter where your runs take you.

Illiotibial (IT) Band Syndrome
The illiotibial band is part of a muscle that runs along the outside of the knee. It can become painful and swollen when it starts to rub on the kneecap. This is typically an overuse injury that occurs if you try to run too far, too soon.

Short-term treatments include ice packs to reduce swelling and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. (Of course, you should check with your doctor before taking any kind of medication.) Longer term, reducing mileage or cross-training outside of running is typically recommended. Stretches that target the IT band can also reduce pain and prevent future problems. The following IT band stretches and release techniques can help: Shin Splints
The phrase "shin splint" is a generic term that describes pain in the lower leg, either on the medial (inside) or lateral (outside) side of the shin bone. This pain usually begins as a dull ache that can't be pinpointed; it can be felt along the entire region where the muscle attaches to the bone.

An ice pack can help reduce pain and swelling in the short term. Longer term, resting from running (cross-training instead) and reducing mileage once you're ready to start running again will help. The article Shin Splints Tips & Hints offers more details.

Plantar Fasciitis
The plantar fascia is a ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot that can become irritated and inflamed in runners. Typically, the pain is most noticeable in the morning after you've been off your feet for an extended period of time. Putting weight on the inflamed area puts stress on the ligament and causes pain. Running long distances or repetitive pounding on the heel of the foot during exercise are factors that contribute to the development of this condition.
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have had shin splints and plantar fasciitis...both took a long time to heal. I got my shin splints from walking fast all the time to keep up with others (I am short) and it got better with Motrin/ice/stretc
    hing (took a while though). I got plantar fasciitis while I was training for a half marathon and needed to change out my shoes and apparently my feet didn't like the new ones so I had to stop jogging altogether (several weeks)...then I went back to my old shoes until after the run event. I am horrible with stretching...don'
    t put much time into it since I don't have the patience for it but I am going to try to add strength training and stretching into my routine. Thank you for the ideas. - 2/10/2014 12:27:50 PM
  • I developed plantar fasciitis and ( I think) runner's knee, long before I ever started on SP ( work as a cleaner, so I'm on my feet and up and down stairs all day). The foot stretch described here, does work, but you have to keep at it, at least 3 times a day, for a long time. I also found that wearing Skechers Shape ups helped, as the arch support presses right up into your arch, plus, the shape of them also takes the pressure off your heel, which is what becomes agony with PF. The runner's knee only really started to go away once I'd lost 20+ pounds with SP. I've read that every pound of your weight amounts to 3 lbs on your knees, more if you're going up stairs. So now I've taken 66 pounds off my knees! - 11/7/2012 3:26:15 PM
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