As many of you will soon begin to increase your mileage with the days getting longer and temps starting to increase, and with plenty of good races on the horizon, it's always a good idea to keep in mind the potential for injury and being cognizant of ways to mitigate the risk of experiencing them.
In this post we will explore some of the most common injuries that can hamper you from continuing on with the activities you love - plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, and patella tendinitis.
Causes: Plantar fasciitis is an extremely common injury that can plague both runners and non-runners alike and is the inflammation of the plantar fascia tissue that runs from your heel to your metatarsal/toes. This inflammation can be caused from prolonged standing, unsupportive shoes, being overweight, weak arches, and overpronation.
How it Feels: Sharp, knife-like pain inside the heel and arch area of the foot. This pain is especially pronounced during the first steps of the morning and at the end of the day.
Self-Care: There are a variety of methods and products that can be used to help treat PF, and it's important to remember that what works for one person may not do the trick for another. You can buy supplemental arch supports to help bring more volume to that area of your foot to aide in keeping its structure. New shoes with more cushion and rocker based soles such as HOKAs have proven to provide some people with a lot of relief. The use of socks/sleeves with gradient and measured compression around the foot to help improve circulation.
If you don't want to make an upfront investment to try and kick your PF, we suggest using a dryer ball or other solid, textured object to roll your foot out on every day to help break up the tissue. A frozen plastic water bottle works great for this as well - plus you get the added benefit of the ice to reduce swelling that may have generated throughout a long day.
See the below for an example of socks one might wear that have measured compression areas through the achilles tendon and the heel/arch area to bring support, encourage bloodflow, and offer a gentle textured massage to breakup tissue.
ILIOTIBIAL BAND SYNDROME (ITBS)
Causes: ITBS is caused by the discomfort of the rubbing of your connective tissue (IT Band) against your thigh bone.ITBS is often associated with running/hiking on roads or trails with an incline forcing your IT Band to become overworked. ITBS can also be triggers by severe over/underpronation, flexible and unsupported arches, and general overuse.
How it Feels: Pain on the outside of the knee or upper leg.
Self-Care: Ice Massages, foam roller work, specific IT Band stretches, reducing mileage (especially hill work), and strengthening your pelvic and buttock muscles to help support your hips.
Below is an example of the type of brace you might wear if coping with ITBS. This helps to support the IT Band on the outside and prevent further muscle vibration and overwork.
PATELLOFEMERAL PAIN SYNDROME (Patella Tendinitis)
Causes: Also known as Patella Tendinitis or Runner's Knee - this is caused by damage to the cartilage underneath the kneecap. Causes can be general overuse, sudden increases in intensity of physical activity, tight leg muscles, imbalanced mechanics resulting in greater hip motion.
How it Feels: Sharp pain while running/jumping, persisting afterwards as a dull ache
Self-Care: Ice Massages, avoid high impact activities, strengthen quadricep muscles. Braces that support the under-side of the patella can be worn to prevent movement of the kneecap during activity to help get you through the pain.
Below is an example of a brace that might be worn to help cope with runner's knee. Braces like this will frame out the knee to encourage it to stay in a locked position, unable to be jostled.
While nobody likes taking time away from the activities they love or realize a cardiovascular benefit from, partaking in such activities can come at a cost. If you are suspicious you might be feeling an injury coming on, the best thing you can do is play it safe and dial yourself back and monitor it closely.
If you are experiencing pain that has not subsided after a lengthy amount of time, it is always a good idea to get in touch with podiatrist who can further help diagnose problems and recommend treatment options.
Be smart, stay injury free, and keep running!