Hit the Ground Running

Just avoid these six common injuries.

Running is a simple way to exercise that’s enjoyed by millions around the world. But if you’re not careful, it’s also an activity that comes with a high risk of injury. Every year, an estimated 8 out of 10 runners can expect to experience some sort of running-related injury. It would be hard to find a runner who’s not feeling some sort of ache or pain or tenderness in the feet, knees, or legs.

Why is running so hard on the body? Far from being a low-impact exercise, running causes many overuse injuries due to the repetitive pressure it places on your muscles and joints. Injury can also occur from running too far or too fast too soon, improper form, or wearing shoes with inadequate support.

So as you hit the pavement in your effort to lose weight or get healthy, beware the following six injuries.

1. Runner’s Knee

A large amount of running injuries affect the knee—40 percent to be precise. Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome or PFPS, is irritation of the cartilage under the kneecap that leads to pain and tenderness around the knee. Runner’s knee is likely caused by running on hard surfaces, running downhill, weak hips, excessive pronation, or muscle imbalances.

2. Plantar Fasciitis

The tendons and ligaments that run along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes is called plantar fascia. Your feet bear the brunt of your bodyweight as you repeatedly pound the pavement, so it’s no wonder they get injured. Inflammation or tiny tears in the plantar fascia can cause stiffness, a dull ache, or extreme pain along the arch of your foot that’s usually worse in the morning. Runners with extreme pronation or supination (the way your foot rolls in or out), high or low arches, unsupportive shoes, or muscle imbalances, or those who go too far too soon are at risk for plantar fasciitis.

3. Achilles Tendinitis

A third common runner’s injury affects the Achilles tendon, the tissue connecting your calf muscles to your heel. Excessive running, running hills, having tight calves, being flat-footed, and running with a lack of foot support can all contribute to Achilles tendinitis. When pain is felt in your Achilles tendon, stop running for a few days to let it heal or it will get worse.

4. Shin Splints

Sharp, aching pain along the front of your lower leg likely signals shin splints, an injury caused by small tears in your shin muscles. Wear old or unsupportive running shoes or go too far too soon and you can expect the nagging pain of shin splints. Talk to a group of runners and at least 1 out of 10 will report shin pain in the past year.

5. Stress Fractures

You don’t have to play contact sports or fall on a hard surface to get a broken bone. Every time they hit the road, runners are at risk for tiny cracks in their shin, foot, or heel bones due to the repetitive pounding and excess strain placed on their bones from overuse. A stress fracture is considered one of the more serious runner’s injuries as it takes weeks or months to heal.

6. Iliotibial Band Syndrome

While runner’s knee causes pain on the front of the knee or under the kneecap, iliotibial band syndrome brings pain along the outside of the knee or in the outer thigh. The iliotibial band tendon in your thigh can become irritated and inflamed from overuse, running downhill, muscle imbalances, or over-pronation of the feet.