3 Common Running Injuries: How To Recognize & Rehab Them
Posted by Jenn F. on Friday, March 13th, 2015
Now that the temperatures are finally above 50 degrees, avid New York City runners will undoubtedly start pounding the pavement again. With such a frigid winter, it’s hard to remember that warmer days exist. Yet there are indeed many great days for running ahead, and you want to be healthy for all of them. Here are a few common springtime injuries to watch out for. Catching them early and treating yourself kindly can save you the trouble of a long recovery later. The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City works with elite and amateur athletes to devise injury prevention strategies and treat pain.
About 15 percent of all running injuries affect the foot, which absorbs several times our body weight in force. Plantar fasciitis–small tears in the tendons and ligaments of the plantar fascia connecting the heel to the toes–is the most common foot injury we see among NYC runners. People tend to shrug off the early signs of plantar fasciitis–a dull, bruise-like ache along the arch. If you feel this type of discomfort, and it’s especially bad after a workout and first thing in the morning, then you are right to suspect plantar fasciitis.
You may be at risk for plantar fasciitis if:
– You have flat feet
– You have very high arches
– Your foot tends to roll inward or outward when you run
– You are increasing your mileage by more than 10% from week to week
– Your job requires a lot of standing, especially on hard surfaces
– You can’t remember the last time you bought running shoes
– You like to wear flat shoes or flip flops
– Your hips and core muscles could be stronger
– You have a history of low back pain
Unfortunately, continuing to run with plantar fasciitis can delay healing–many runners report suffering the pain for a year or longer. Stop running completely if your tenderness doesn’t fade after you’ve warmed up on a run. We recommend maintaining fitness through cycling, elliptical training, or swimming, and taking three to six months off from running. A compression sock can hug your arch and ease some of the pain during workouts, while a Strassburg sock can offer you a good stretch. You can also roll your foot over a frozen water bottle for five minutes, up to five times a day. Stretch your plantar fascia by crossing one leg over the other and gently pulling the toes back, or use a foam roller to stretch out your calf muscles before and after a workout, and add strength-training workouts to boost these muscles, which will take some of the burden off the plantar fascia. Here at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, physical therapists can work with you for more advanced rehabilitation. Patients are reporting great results from noninvasive treatments using low-level shockwaves, platelet rich plasma injections, and pain lasers. Should you need it, we also have several experienced, board-certified podiatric surgeons on staff.
Runners who traverse a lot of hills often come in complaining of Achilles tendon irritation, which generally accounts for about 11 percent of all running injuries, according to Runnersworld.com. Signs of Achilles tendinitis may involve stiffness, aching, or tenderness anywhere from the heel up to the calf. You will often notice it first in the morning, and worsening as the day goes on. If you squeeze the heel cord, you may feel intense pain; your lower leg will probably feel fatigued and weak. Sprinting and climbing stairs may become a real problem, too.
You might be at risk if:
– You run a lot of hills
– You do a lot of speed work
– You have tight or weak calf muscles
This is another injury you can’t just shake off. If you have any noticeable swelling or pain–especially when you’re not running–then stop your training completely. If standing up on your toes causes you pain, stop running. Continuing to train through Achilles tendon issues can lead to a complete rupture of the tendon, which can only be repaired surgically. Sometimes the tendon can heal itself within a few days if you’ve caught it early enough; more serious cases may take up to six months to resolve. Apply ice aggressively to combat inflammation–15 minutes at a time, up to five times a day. Once you’re feeling better, strengthen your calf muscles with heel drops, by rising up on the balls of both feet on a step. Running in the pool, swimming, and elliptical training are good exercises for rehab, and compression socks can make a big difference in your workouts. At our NYC sports medicine center, we treat Achilles tendinitis with a combination of strength training, biopuncture therapy, gait analysis, extracorporeal shockwave treatment, cryotherapy, the FAST procedure, and/or surgery, when necessary.
Stress fractures of the foot bones remain one of the more serious running injuries NYC podiatrists treat. Unlike acute fractures, which occur suddenly and obviously, stress fractures can be more subtle–they often feel like a deep ache. Almost six percent of runners report having had one in the past year, according to Runners World. Symptoms include a sudden onset, a severely painful tender spot somewhere along a bone, and pain when hopping on the injured side. If the pain doesn’t subside during the run, it’s probably a stress fracture.
You might be at risk if:
– You have a habit of overtraining
– You run more than four days a week
– You are a woman (due to lower bone density)
– You are on a low-calorie diet
– You are new to running
If being on your feet in general feels uncomfortable, stop your running altogether. Plan on taking two to four months away from running to heal your broken bone. Weight-bearing bones in the foot can be some of the slowest to heal. Avoid all impact exercises and switch to pool runs and swims. If Olympic marathon runner Deena Kastor can maintain her fitness level with pool running, so can you! Don’t start jogging until you are able to walk without any pain. Start slowly, with just a few minutes of running mixed with walking. The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine can help you repair a fracture with strength training, immobilization, and pain-reducing lasers. Surgery is not common, but it’s possible in some cases.
NYC Running Injury Treatment
If you fear you’ve sustained one of these running injuries in NYC, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. We have specialists working at two offices–one in Manhattan, and one in White Plains. We employ the latest technology and expertise required to help you get back on your feet and start training again as quickly as possible. Unlike general practitioners, we treat the root cause of your injury–not just the symptoms–and our aim is active recovery that is in line with your fitness goals.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.