Greater Portland has a strong and enthusiastic community of runners. Considering the Mediterranean climate, gorgeous natural beauty, and dozens of miles of scenic trails, that’s no surprise!
Running is a great way to stay fit, recharge your mind, and explore both urban and natural environments. Unfortunately, it can also lead to pain and injury—especially if you aren’t careful. At Northwest Extremity Specialists, our podiatric physicians offer the care and advice you need to treat and prevent injury.
Common Running Injuries
Some of the most common foot and ankle injuries, accidents, and chronic issues associated with avid running include:
- Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis refers to stretching, tearing, and inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament on the bottom of the foot, usually near the bottom of the heel. The pain is often the worst right after sleeping or sitting for an extended period of time.
- Achilles tendinitis. This refers to inflammation or degeneration in the tendon fibers in the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf to the back of the heel. (It’s also known as the heel cord). Achilles tendinitis usually leads to pain, stiffness, and tenderness along the back of the heel.
- Shin splints. The term “shin splints” can refer to any painful symptoms along the front or inside of the lower leg. The area where muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues attach to the inside of the tibia (shinbone) is especially vulnerable to injury.
- Stress fractures. Stress fractures are hairline cracks in the surface of a bone, and are common in load-bearing areas such as the shins and metatarsal bones of the midfoot. Over time, repetitive overuse wears down soft tissues, making them less effective at cushioning shocks. Those impact forces then get placed on bones, causing them to crack. Pain typically increases with activity and recedes with rest.
- Ankle sprains. An ankle sprain occurs when one or more of the ligaments that hold the ankle joint in place is stretched or torn. They typically are caused by an awkward tumble that twists or rolls the ankle further than the ligaments can bear. Even relatively minor sprains can cause long-term complications if not treated properly, so don’t take treatment upon yourself.
- Skin and nail injuries. Running can lead to skin and nail injuries and infections, usually due to shoes that are too tight, too loose, or don’t breathe properly. Common issues include blisters, black toenails, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, and athlete’s foot.
Running Injury Treatment and Prevention
Many running injuries can be treated, and even prevented, using simple conservative therapies. These can include:
- RICE (rest, ice, therapy, elevation) therapy. If your feet hurt from running, give yourself a break for a few days and let them recover. Ice packs, compression tape, and elevating your feet can control swelling.
- Support your feet. Improper or ill-fitting running shoes are a major source of injury and pain. Our team can help you select an appropriate pair, and if necessary fit you for arch supports or custom orthotics.
- Physical therapy. We can provide instructions on appropriate stretches, exercises, and even massage options
- Make smart training decisions. Both rookies and ultramarathoners alike may adopt harmful training habits, including increasing mileage or intensity too quickly, or running on terrain that’s too hard or too hilly. Adjust the difficulty of your route to your current level and build slowly to prevent injury. Also, cross-train in low-impact disciplines like cycling or swimming, instead of running every day.
- More advanced treatment options. Our team can provide state-of-the-art care options, including regenerative medicine and shockwave therapy, for particularly difficult or stubborn pain.
If you are experiencing any pain, discomfort, or difficulty during or after your run, please don’t ignore it or attempt to “push through” the pain. This will only make it worse for you in the long run! Instead, connect with one of the talented podiatrist physicians at Northwest Extremity Specialists by contact the office closest to you.