Running does not guarantee an injury but some of the common running injuries to occur are Plantar Fasciitis, Shin Splints, Runner’s Knee, IT Band Syndrome, Achilles Tendinitis, Sprained Ankle, Stress Fracture, Muscle Strain or Pull, and Blisters. Whether it is a nagging knee pain, foot pain, or hamstring injury, this guide details what each running injury type is, how to treat it, and prevent the injury where possible.
A nagging pain in the heel may be more than it appears, and be a condition called plantar fasciitis. This foot pain manifests itself as injuries to the plantar fascia ligament that connects the heel bone to your toes occur. As this critical ligament supports your arches, a strain can cause irritation and swelling resulting in pain with every step.
Continued pushing of this strain may result in tears to the ligament. Those who heavily pronate (rolling of feet inward when walking), have high arches, are overweight, wear the wrong type or worn out shoes, and generally are on their feet for long periods of time are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis and other running injuries.
How to Treat Plantar Fasciitis
The range of “how injured” your heel feels generally aligns to the treatment you will pursue for plantar fasciitis, from backing off your training to complete rest, acknowledging that if you have any doubts you should head to your doctor for a thorough evaluation. They may even recommend you to a podiatrist for deeper evaluation and treatment. While the majority of individuals with plantar fasciitis recover, this requires varying treatment as follows:
- Back off you running regime and try to limit how long and how hard of surfaces you are walking and running on, while resting and icing as much as possible
- Anti-inflammatory drugs can assist, but as stated previously should be used with caution due to potential side effects
- Ensure that you have the correct and non-worn out running shoes. Adding a heel cup to provide additional padding around your heel may also assist. Also note that walking around your home causes impact, especially on slab based homes, so you may want to obtain a pair of “indoor shoes” with good support to help reduce impact
- Adopt a stretching routine that includes drills such as towel stretches, toe stretches, and calf stretches to strengthen the muscles supporting your arches while gaining flexibility in the plantar fascia ligament
- In very rare cases (less than 5-10% of the time) surgery may be required to correct plantar fasciitis issues, where the tension on the ligament is reduced. However, more doctors and specialists are likely to only escalate to surgery as a last resort after all other treatment options have failed
How to Prevent Plantar Fasciitis
Prevention of plantar fasciitis is a multi-honed approach that contains common elements you should adopt across your injury prevention plan. This includes:
- Getting running shoes that are the right type, possibly combined with orthotics while replacing any worn down shoes. Your local running store is a great place to determine if you need new shoes or have the right type of running shoes and support for your foot type
- Introduce stretching that focuses on the Achilles tendon and generally mobility of your foot muscles. Be cautious not to perform “cold stretching” but rather start warming up with dynamic stretching
- Ensure that you maintain a proper body weight for your height as the additional pressure will go directly to your feet. Don’t be discouraged if you experience pain in the heel but rather back off the amount of training as your weight loss plan needs to start somewhere and it takes time for your body to adapt. Even if weight loss is not your goal, as you have another reason for running, always gradually increase your running mileage while listening carefully to your body
- Too much running can be a bad thing, so evaluate cross training activities to shift the focus on repetitive motion away from your heel