Running is a high-impact, high intensity exercise meaning the sport can put a lot of stress on the body. Over time, the impact can start to weaken and harm your bones and joints. We are certainly not telling anyone “don’t take up running.” No, it’s quite the opposite. Running is great…we are just warning you of four potential injuries that new runners commonly suffer because their bodies aren’t used to the intense pounding on the pavement.
Here’s four things new runners should be aware of so that you know when to take a pause and better understand your pain:
- Your Achilles tendon may ache at first. The Achilles tendon is responsible for stretching your calf muscle when raising up your toes to walk or run. It’s works in combination with the muscle near it. Weakness in the muscle, calves or hamstrings can affect the way your Achilles tendon may feel. It does get stronger as your muscle gets stronger. But, that takes time. At first, it may be sore every time you run. Be sure to stretch the Achilles tendons before and after a good run for some relief from new runner’s pain. Chronic pain the Achilles tendon may indicate you have an injury and you should have that looked at by our orthopedic surgeon.
- “Runner’s Knee” is the most common injury for new runners. Sometimes it is just pain that occurs as you set out on your run and then subsides during…only to recur when you completely finish your run. This injury usually resides under the kneecap. This “grinding” injury requires medical attention if it is intense and/or persistent. It usually indicates a problem with the level of fluid in your knee.
- Shin splints are common and not usually a long-lasting injury. With shin splints, running form can be the cure. Shins are used to propel you forward in your run. Stretching is great for preventing shin splints. And form is everything! However, if pain from shin splints is persistent, you may need to see our orthopedic surgeon.
- Stress fractures are common with runners. They don’t immediately happen but can get more serious after time. Runners are likely to experience this in the shin bone or foot bones or fibia. You’ll know when your bone is stressed because it will cause pain. It usually gets worse as you continue to run. It starts out as a hairline fracture, but overtime, the repetitive motion and continuous pounding will create a larger fracture. With stress fractures, you must stop the exercise that is causing it and treat the injury and see the orthopedic surgeon.
Running is great exercise with almost immediate results. It’s also one of the hardest exercises on the body. Pay attention to how your body, bones and joints feel after your run. If you have pain, ice or rest the injured area. If that doesn’t help, you may need to see an orthopedic specialist.