This article was updated in April 2023.
It’s widely accepted that running can have numerous benefits for overall health, but it’s important to take proper precautions to avoid injury. Seeking advice from a podiatrist before beginning any running or training regimen can help prevent foot and leg pain and minimise the risk of long-lasting injury.
What are the most common types of running injuries?
There are several common running injuries that runners may experience, some of which include:
Plantar fasciitis: This is a condition that causes pain in the bottom of the foot and heel. It occurs when the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed or irritated.
Shin splints: This is a common condition that causes pain along the shinbone (tibia). It can be caused by overuse, stress fractures, or muscle strains.
Runner’s knee: Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, this condition causes pain in the front of the knee. It is often caused by overuse or improper alignment of the kneecap.
Achilles tendinitis: This is a condition that causes pain in the back of the heel. It occurs when the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, becomes inflamed or irritated.
IT band syndrome: This is a condition that causes pain on the outside of the knee. It is caused by inflammation or irritation of the iliotibial band, a thick band of tissue that runs from the hip down to the knee.
Stress fractures: These are small cracks in the bone that can occur in the feet, legs, or hips. They are often caused by overuse and can be very painful.
It’s important to note that these are just a few of the most common running injuries. If you experience any persistent pain or discomfort while running, it’s important to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional.
Karl Lockett is a Sports Podiatrist and leading specialist for heel pain. Karl’s treatments go beyond standard orthotics, and he is one of the few specialists to offer shock wave therapy to stimulate healing, as well as dry needling, taping, and immobilisation boots.
At least half a million Australians experience foot pain of varying degrees of severity at one time or another in their lives. According to Karl, it is often brought on by a “too hard too soon” approach to exercise, such as running.
“To avoid injury when preparing for a fun run or marathon, education is the best form of prevention. A trip to your podiatrist prior to training can identify what your individual situation is with your feet, through various checks such as cameras and treadmill tests. A preventative or intervention program may then include altering or adjusting running style, devising a stretching routine, guidance towards buying the correct running shoes, and perhaps providing orthotics,” says Karl.
How to prevent running injuries:
If you’re new to regular running, you should book yourself in for an assessment by a podiatrist prior to starting your training routine. Seeking professional advice here means you can have your running style or gait assessed, check that your footwear is the best choice for your needs, and address any pre-existing physiological issues that could pose an issue if left unattended.
Here are some tips to prevent running injuries:
Gradual progression: Gradually increase the intensity, duration, and frequency of your runs. Start with a lower intensity and gradually build up over time. Don’t increase your mileage or intensity too quickly.
Proper warm-up and cool-down: Warm up with some light stretching or a short walk before starting your run, and cool down with stretching afterward.
Strength and flexibility training: Incorporate strength training exercises and flexibility training, such as yoga, into your routine to build strength and flexibility in the muscles and joints used for running.
Wear proper footwear: Choose running shoes that fit well and are appropriate for your foot type and running style.
Proper running form: Focus on maintaining proper running form, including a mid-foot strike, relaxed shoulders, and a forward lean.
Rest and recovery: Allow your body to rest and recover between runs. Rest is important for the body to recover and prevent overuse injuries.
Listen to your body: Pay attention to any pain or discomfort during and after runs. If you experience persistent pain, reduce the intensity or duration of your runs and seek medical attention if necessary.
Running is an excellent form of activity that costs nothing to partake in and can have huge benefits on both physical and mental health. By following these tips, you can help prevent running injuries and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
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