Brooke Nicholls Nelson: Prevent, treat common running injuries
Nov 03, 2013 | 5014 views |  0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Illustration: AnnaMaria Jacob/MCT
Illustration: AnnaMaria Jacob/MCT
We are in the midst of a running boom — both nationally and locally, and if you run enough, you will develop a running-related injury.

For the summer issue of Healthy Living Calhoun County, I interviewed Dr. Buddy Vandervoort, a partner at Anniston Orthopaedics, who said the upside of the running boom is the health benefit. But with that comes the downside — an increase in patients with running-related injuries.

According to Vandervoort, all the doctors in his practice have seen an increase in patients with lower-extremity issues.

“Running is an impact exercise as opposed to a low-impact, which carries the risk of overuse injuries,” he said. “New runners should start slow and progress in graduated fashion.”

Experienced runners should also be careful not to bump up their mileage or intensity too sharply as injuries can be caused by the “sudden significant shifts in a training schedule.”

“Listen to your body,” he advises. “And add some lower-impact cross training to your schedule, like cycling, swimming or walking, to help prevent problems.”

The five most common running injuries can all be caused by increasing mileage and overuse, says Vandervoort. He advises runners to vary routes and take note of the type of surface they run on. A cambered or crowned road, one with a rise in the middle and sloping sides, can cause injuries.

“I love to run around the golf course by my house, but my favorite area is the Woodstock course, and I’ll even run the track by the high school,” says 56-year-old Vandervoort, a runner since his college days. “I particularly enjoy it if Anniston High School students are out practicing a sport.”

1. Achilles Tendonitis — The largest tendon in the body, the Achilles connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel bone. Over time, inflammation can produce a covering of scar tissue, which can tear or rupture
Symptoms: Mild pain after exercise that may gradually worsen. Mild swelling, morning tenderness and stiffness that appears to improve with use. Dull or sharp pain along the back of the tendon, usually close to the heel. Limited ankle flexibility with redness or heat over the painful area. Lumpy nodule on tendon. Crackling sounds with ankle movement. Partial or complete tear of the tendon.
Causes: Often occurs with over-training, rapid increase in training intensity or distance, or the introduction of new training techniques when body is not fully conditioned. Tight or fatigued muscles, which transfer the burden of running to the Achilles. Poor stretching. Excessive hill running or speed work. Overpronation (feet rotate too far inward on impact).
Prevention: Appropriate stretching of tendon. Wearing the correct running shoes. Strengthen foot and calf muscles. Avoid excessive hill training. Orthotics.

2. Patellar Tendonitis/Chondromalacia (Runner’s Knee) — The knee, which consists of four joints, is more likely to be injured than any joint in the body.
Symptoms: Dull ache around the front sides of the patella and patella tendon. Pain is most severe after hill running. Swelling around the knee.
Causes: Patella out of alignment. Overpronation or overuse of joints. Running on an old injury or weak quadriceps muscles
Prevention: Strengthen and condition upper leg and hip muscle. Avoid excessive downhill running and cambered roads. Stretch quadriceps, hamstrings, IT Band and gluteal muscles. Wear correct shoes and/or orthotics.

3. Illiotibial Band (IT Band) — The IT Band rubs against the femur as it runs alongside the outside of the knee joint.
Symptoms: Pain and inflammation on the outside of the knee. Dull ache that occurs shortly into a run and disappears after a run, returning as a severe sharp pain later. Pain is worse on downhill and crowned roads.
Causes: Anything that causes the leg to bend inwards, stretching the IT Band against the femur. Overtraining and overpronation. Lack of stretching. Excessive hill running or crowned roads.
Prevention: Avoid excessive downhill running or crowned roads. Specific stretching. Correct shoes or orthotics.

4. Plantar Fasciitis — An inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick fibrous band of tissue in the bottom of the foot which runs from the heel to the base of the toe.
Symptoms: Pain at the base of the heel and along the fascia. Severe pain in the morning, especially when getting out of bed and when beginning a run.
Causes: Stress, tension and pulling on the plantar fascia. Inflexible calf muscles and tight Achilles. Overtraining or overpronation and high arches. Incorrect or worn-out running shoes.
Prevention: Stretching of tendon, particularly before running. Correct shoes. Gradual progression in training program.

5. Shin Splints — New runners are most susceptible to shin splints, the inflammation of the muscle attachments and membranes along the medial side of the tibial bone.
Symptoms: Pain or tenderness along the inside of the shin, usually about halfway down the shin and may extend to knee. Pain is most severe at the start of a run, and may disappear as muscles loosen.
Causes: Repeated movements during exercise that cause muscle fatigue. Inflexible calf muscles and tight Achilles tendons. Overpronation. Incorrect or worn-out shoes.
Prevention: Stretching. Alter training schedule. Wear appropriate shoes, specifically motion-control shoes and orthotics to correct overpronation. Strengthen foot and calf muscles. Apply ice after running. Run on soft surfaces and limit time on pavement. Avoid over-striding, which places more stress on shins.

For more information on running groups in the area, visit Anniston Runners online at For Etowah County, visit the Gadsden Runners group on Facebook.
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