Tag Archives: running injuries

Running Injuries 101: ITBS

In this fourth installment of our running injuries series, we’ll cover ITBS.  ITBS is the acronym for Iliotibial Band Syndrome, is a common running injury experience by those who are both new to and experienced with the sport of running.  A preventable and treatable injury, read on to learn more about what ITBS is, how to avoid it and how to recover when you do get injured.

What:  The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs from the hip to the shin on the outside of each thigh helping to both stabilize and move the knee joint.  ITBS is an overuse injury that occurs when this band is inflamed or tight and leads to pain with movement of the knee.ITBS graphic

Causes:  ITBS is most often caused by overuse.  This could come from a sudden increase in work load for the knee, a change in terrain or a lack of recovery time.  It can also result from running too much in worn out shoes, on banked surfaces, turning only in one direction or faulty running mechanics that cause your knees to rotate inward.

Symptoms:  Pain and swelling on the outside of the knee are the result of an inflamed IT Band.  ITBS can feel like a knee injury but it isn’t.  If you bend your knee to 45 degrees and have pain on the outside, it’s ITBS.

Treatments:  Rest, foam rolling and low impact cross training like swimming are good ways to ease and avoid further irritation of the IT band.  Ice and anti-inflamatories are also options to treat ITBS pain.  While all of these will treat the symptoms or ITBS, it’s most important to address the cause of your injury during the treatment and recovery phases.

Recovery:  ITBS often results from poor running mechanics that allow the knee to rotate inward on landing.  Strengthening glutes, working towards a neutral foot strike in a low drop shoe and increasing mobility through both hip extension and flexion are the best ways to treat and prevent this injury.  Work with a qualified coach or physical therapist to determine what caused your injury, rest to heal it then strengthen and mobilize to prevent it from happening again.

Coach Meredith

Running Injuries 101: Runner’s Knee

This third installment of our running injuries series will cover runner’s knee, a term that can refer to any pain centered around your kneecap.  It’s a preventable injury that, like most running injuries, can end up sidelining a great season or a solid training plan for a while if not runner's kneeproperly dealt with.  Here you’ll learn what runner’s knee can be, how to treat it and how to prevent it.

What:  Unlike shin splints and plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee is a broad term to describe discomfort around the kneecap that can come from several different sources. Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, it is common in both new and experience runners and can have a history of reoccurring.

Causes:

  • Overuse: Suddenly increasing training load in a high impact sport such as running can lead to overstretched tendons and irritation of the kneecap joint.
  • Foot Problems: Fallen arches, overpronation or hypermobile foot joints can all cause runner’s knee.
  • Muscle imbalances and malalignment: Weaker muscles in the thigh lead to uneven loads on knees that create abnormal wear and tear on the joint as the knee collapses inward with each footfall.  Bones that are out of alignment will cause similar abnormal damage as stress is unevenly distributed through the skeletal system.
  • Poor running mechanics: Running form errors such as heel striking, over striding, toe running and poor posture can all cause sheer across the kneecap joint that results in irregular wear and tear on the patellofemoral joint.

Symptoms:  The symptoms of runner’s knee include pain around or behind the kneecap potentially along with swelling and popping/grinding feelings.  There will be pain when the knee is bent during walking, running, jogging and squatting that is worse when going downhill or down a flight of stairs.

Treatment:  There are a wide variety of options available to help treat runner’s knee.

  • Rest:  Take some time off from high impact activities and avoid putting weight on the hurting knee.
  • Compression:  Use compression sleeves, pants, elastic bandages or patellar straps to give the knee extra support during the healing process.  Avoid these while exercising as they mask the underlying issue and can lead to more damage.
  • Strength and mobility work:  Study a tape of yourself running and work with a qualified coach or physical therapist to target muscle imbalances and running form errors that created the initial irritation.

Recovery:  Once you are able to get back in action after recovering from runner’s knee, maintain muscle balance and mobility by regularly performing strength and mobility exercise for the hips, legs and feet.  Remember to wear appropriate shoes with enough support for your foot while avoiding doing all of your running on very hard surfaces like concrete and making sudden dramatic increases in training load.

Coach Meredith

***The post was originally written for and released by The Runner Dad***

Running Injuries 101: Plantar Fasciitis

This week we continue our Running Injuries series with plantar fasciitis (PF).  A seriously no fun injury to face, PF is something all runners dread but luckily, it is 100% preventable.  Learn more about what PF is, how it happens and how to treat it by reading on!

What:  Plantar fasciitis (PF) is the most common source of heel pain in runners new and old.  It is the result of inflammation of the thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toe bones.

Cause:  PF is caused by inflammation of the thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toe bones.  These tissues, the plantar fascia, are a support for the arch of your foot and act like a shock absorber when the foot lands.  If they become overworked by too much stretching and tearing the results are inflammation and tenderness.  People who are overweight, who have weak feet, poor movement mechanics or wear shoes without enough support are especially at risk.

Symptoms:  Plantar fasciitis is characterized by a sharp stabbing pain in the foot with the first movements of your day that will subside or ease once the foot has warmed up.  The pain can resume as a plantar fasciitisresult of standing for a long period of time or when you stand up from sitting or lying down.  PF can limit the amount of running, jumping, walking and dancing you are able to tolerate.

Treatments:  Anti-inflammatories will ease the pain of PF but should be accompanied by another form of treatment to address the underlying cause.  Ice can also be used while orthotics and surgical options exist for those who have unbearable pain.  Orthotics should only be used in very extreme cases of completely collapsed or permanently damaged plantar fascia.

Recovery:  Prevention is the best way to treat PF.  Be sure spending time barefoot along with foam rolling and regular foot, ankle and lower leg strength and mobility exercises are part of your training plan.  These are excellent ways to build stronger arches, more flexible ankles and looser Achilles tendons that are less likely to become inflamed. If you do come down with plantar fasciitis, recovery can be a long road.  The most important step in recovering is to figure out what caused the injury and work to correct it.  An ideal path involves a movement or gait analysis accompanied by a custom stretching, massaging and strengthening plan for the plantar fascia and their supporting muscles.

Coach Meredith

***The post was originally written for and published on The Runner Dad***

Running Injuries 101: Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common injury, especially in new runners.  They are painful but usually come with a much quicker recovery time than the dreaded stress fracture.  Read on to discover more about shin splints.

What: Shin splints is the common name for the official medical condition known as medial tibial stress syndrome. It causes pain along the long bone in the front of the lower leg called the tibia and is frequently seen in runners, especially new ones or those increasing mileage.

Cause: Shin splints are caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons and tissues surrounding the tibia. This inflammation can result from a sudden change in training routines, an increase in intensity or a poor foot strike due to weak hips, over pronation and a lack of core strength.

Symptoms: Symptoms of shin splints include tenderness and soreness along the length of the tibia and inner leg as well as possible swelling of the lower leg. Sometimes the pain will go away shin splintsas activity continues but eventually it becomes constant. Of course, if you’re having serious constant pain, getting an x-ray to rule out a stress fracture is always a good idea.

Treatments: Shin splints are usually treated with rest, ice four times a day for 15-20 minutes and mild anti-inflammatories. Compression sleeves are a good way to provide additional support and warmth to weaker areas during healing.

Recovery: During the healing process, it’s important to swap out your high impact activity that caused the injury for lower impact activities like swimming, water running and biking. You’ll also want to spend some time doing range of motion and strength training exercises that will help your body move correctly and prevent shin splints from occurring. Once you’re healed, slowly rebuild high impact activities back in being sure to give your bones, tissues and muscles time to toughen up.

Coach Meredith

*This post was originally written for and published on The Runner Dad*

5 Tips to Protect Your Feet

Your feet take the full impact of every step you walk, jog, skip or run.  Working to protect your feet from injury and ailment is one of the best ways to make sure your running season isn’t cut short.  Home to 100+ ligaments, 33 joints and 26 bones, neglecting your feet can, and for many runners eventually does, lead to some seriously not fun problems like athlete’s foot, blisters and plantar fasciitis.  Use these five tips to take care of your feet and stay healthy all season long.

Find the right shoes.  One of the best ways to protect your feet is to wear the correct shoes.  There are thousands of options available, making sure you’ll find the right one might take a little work.  Try different brands and models after you have a special fitting and make sure they’re protect your feetbig enough to let your toes spread out.  Too small shoes lead to black toenails while too narrow shoes mean blisters and too little support can cause IT band pain, plantar fasciitis and potentially stress factures.

Love those shoes.  Keep tabs on the treads and retire them before the materials are completely degraded, typically 300-500 miles.  Know that wear and tear also depends on what type of runner you are.  If you run on roads rather than trails, if you’re heavy or tall, if you stride isn’t smooth, shoes can wear out sooner.

You’ll also want to invest in more than one pair for those rainy days.  Wet shoes are not only heavy, they can lead to blisters, itching and fungus.  Dry wet shoes by removing the insoles and placing them in indirect heat out of the sunlight while you’re out running in another pair.

Wear good socks.  Your feet will sweat.  With 125,000 sweat glands, it’s inevitable.  Wearing good socks will help your feet stay dry and can help prevent fungi like athlete’s foot from developing.  Lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking socks are the best way to protect your feet from dampness and always have a clean, dry pair handy.  Dry shoes and dry socks are a good way to prevent foot and toenail fungus from ruining your next run.

Give them a rub down.  Your feet take a beating during any run and a little extra attention protect your feetafter a workout can help them stay happy and healthy.  A self-massage with your hands, a lacrosse ball, a foot roller or even a golf ball is a great way to relax and recover.  You can also try a professional massage or even step up to reflexology.

Strong feet are healthy feet.  I wrote about this here, too, but it can’t be said enough.  Your feet are an integral part of making running a miserable experience or an awesome one.  The stronger they are, the safer they’ll be.  Strengthen and protect your feet by practicing barefoot one leg balance, wearing flat shoes, or no shoes at all, as often as possible.

Use these five tips to protect your feet from fungus, blisters and muscle strains so you can stay on the road all season long.

Coach Meredith