Running is an extremely popular way to stay in shape and improve overall fitness. People from all fitness levels run anywhere from a half mile to an entire marathon.
While many people run thousands of miles each year without any issues, running does put a lot of strain on the bones, ligaments, and muscles in the lower body.
After a while, running can take a toll, causing various injuries like fractures and sprains. However, you can take specific prevention measures to keep from getting hurt.
Dr. Jeffrey E. McAlister and the Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute team specialize in foot and ankle injuries, including those sustained from running.
Dr. McAlister is an experienced foot and ankle surgeon offering cutting-edge treatments for various sports injuries, including running problems.
Prevalent running injuries
Injuries are an unfortunate aspect of physical activity, and it's no different with running. Although not everyone suffers injuries during running, it's an activity that strains various parts of your body, including your feet and ankles.
Despite the risk of injury, many people enjoy running to relieve stress, attain physical wellness, and improve cardio.
If you're careful, you may never have to deal with an injury from running — but if you do, it's vital to know the most prevalent types of injuries to the foot and ankle, which include:
An ankle sprain is a common injury among athletes and runners. It happens when the ligaments on the lateral aspect of the ankle stretch beyond their tolerance or tear.
Three grades of ankle sprains vary from a mild ligament injury to a complete tear. Ankle sprains can take several weeks to heal and, in severe cases, a few months.
The Achilles tendon is the large tendon that connects the heel bone to the calf muscles. Increasing running distance too fast can lead to the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, including pain, swelling, and stiffness.
You may experience pain that's worse first thing in the morning or discomfort around the heel of the foot.
The plantar fascia is a band of thick tissue under the foot. Plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the fascia, is widespread among runners, especially those who increase duration or intensity without resting properly.
The symptoms include heel pain or a burning sensation. The pain worsens after getting out of bed or after prolonged running or activity.
A stress fracture is an overuse injury that's also prevalent in runners. It happens when the load-bearing bones in your feet form tiny cracks, causing pain.
The high impact and repetitive force of running places runners at risk for stress fractures. Pain typically worsens over time, and you might have bruising or swelling around the affected foot.
Symptoms that warrant treatment
Some running injuries take time to develop, meaning you might not have noticeable symptoms immediately. However, if you develop any of the following symptoms, it's a good idea to seek help from our team:
- Swelling in the foot or ankle
- Tenderness around the injury
- Pain that's worse with activity
- Discomfort even at rest
- Bruising or discoloration
- Weakness on the affected side
As soon as you notice pain or other symptoms, getting off your feet and resting is crucial. Apply ice to the injury and elevate it to control swelling. If the pain continues or symptoms worsen, seek treatment immediately.
Prevention tips for running injuries
Just because you're a runner doesn't mean you have to deal with the pain or discomfort of an injury. Dr. McAlister offers the following prevention tips to athletes and runners for injury avoidance:
- Increase flexibility
- Work on balance
- Adopt a strength training routine
- Focus on coordination
- Get plenty of rest
- Warm up before running
- Try running on soft surfaces
It's also essential to increase distance gradually while running. Too much distance too quickly may lead to stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis.
Stretching and adopting a warm-up and cool-down routine significantly reduces the risk of injuries to your foot and ankle bones, tendons, and ligaments.
Don't let a runner's injury keep you sidelined. Call Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute today at 602-761-7819 to schedule a consultation with Dr. McAlister, or request an appointment using our online booking tool.