Running is an excellent form of exercise that can keep your heart strong, help you to maintain a healthy body weight and release mood-boosting endorphins. However, the force placed on the joints, tendons and ligaments when a person runs can cause damage. Here are some tips on how to cope with some of the most common injuries that affect runners.
Achilles tendinopathy is an injury which affects the Achilles tendon; this is a tissue which runs from the bottom of the heel to the back of the lower calf. This condition is almost always caused by intense or repetitive strain being placed on the tendon, which is why it is extremely common amongst those who run regularly.
The symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include tenderness, swelling, stiffness and pain around the heel area. Some people may also notice a faint creaking sound each time that they move their foot.
Mild cases of Achilles tendinopathy can sometimes heal without medical intervention, provided the injured foot is rested for long enough. However, in most instances, those suffering from this injury will need to have several sports physio sessions in order to ease their pain and restore the functionality of the affected tendon.
Most sports physiotherapists will give patients suffering from this condition several exercises, which they will then need to perform on a daily basis for several weeks. They may also carry out specific massage techniques and tissue mobilisation exercises to speed up the healing process.
Additionally, if the physiotherapist suspects that the condition was partially caused (or is being exacerbated by) problems with the patient's gait, they may also provide custom-made night-splints, which are designed to force the feet into the correct position whilst the person sleeps.
Many runners experience stress fractures in their feet and ankles. These tiny, hairline fractures are almost always the result of too much pressure being placed on these weight-bearing parts of the body. They can occur when a runner doesn't wear supportive running shoes, or if they switch from running on a relatively soft surface that offers some shock absorption (such as a beach) to running on a very hard surface (like tarmac or concrete).
If an X-ray has revealed that a person has a stress fracture, their doctor will usually recommend that they rest the affected foot or ankle for at least six weeks. If the person continues to run on the fractured bone, this could result in the fracture increasing in size and taking much longer to heal.
In some cases, running on a stress fracture can lead to permanent problems which result in long-term foot and ankle pain. As such, those who are suffering from this condition who wish to remain fit and active during the healing period should stick to forms of exercise which do not put any strain on their bones, such as swimming.
The healing process can sometimes be sped up by the use of a foot brace, shoe inserts or crutches, all of which will help to keep pressure off the fractured bone whilst the person is moving around.