If you love to run—great! Here’s how to avoid its downsides
Running is one of the simplest forms of exercise. With the weather finally warming up, all you need are a pair of sneakers and the great outdoors. But running can also lead to injury.
“Although running has many positive health benefits, there are still risks that come along with the activity,” says Dan E. Robinson, DPM, a podiatrist who specializes in foot and ankle surgery at Bingham Memorial’s Orthopedic Institute. And, he is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.
Since April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, Dr. Robinson, details how to prevent and treat some of the most common running injuries.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or anterior knee pain
Cause: Weakness in gluteus muscles, hips or quadriceps.
How to fix it: It’s all about reducing the load on the knees. Changing your gait—by shortening your stride or trying for a mid-foot strike—can lighten the load on your knees by up to 30 percent. A qualified physical therapist can observe your gait and make suggestions.
Calf and Achilles tendon issues
Cause: Aging or overuse.
How to fix it: This injury responds well to strengthening. Try some calf raises on the edge of a step. Start with raises using your body weight and gradually increase to holding a dumbbell or other weight.
Pelvis and hip pain in women
How to fix it: After giving birth, some women start having issues with their pelvic floor. These tiny muscles can be hard to target, but a physical therapist can help women strengthen them, sometimes with the assistance of ultrasound imaging.
Cause: Overuse, especially in adolescents.
How to fix it: This is more about prevention than treatment. Runners, especially young ones, should make sure they’re not putting in too many miles per week. Good nutrition also helps prevent stress fractures, because a good diet keeps bones strong.
Plantar fasciitis (inflamed tissue in the foot)
Cause: Repeated pounding of the heel, creating tiny tears in the fascia, a thick band of tissue in your foot.
How to fix it: Preventing this pain can be as simple as making sure you’re wearing the right type of running shoes. Or try stretching with a golf ball or lacrosse ball under your foot and heel and then apply ice. In some cases, a physical therapist will recommend orthotics.
Find Foot Relief
Dr. Robinson is a board-certified podiatric surgeon. He see patients at Bingham Memorial’s Orthopedic Institute in Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello. If you experience any pain in your feet, call (208) 782-2490.