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By: Stephanie Florence, DPM
Foot & Ankle Specialist
UPMC Susquehanna Foot & Ankle
Running is inexpensive and easy to do, either indoors or outdoors. Whether you are a seasoned runner or a beginner, taking proper precautions before, during, and after running will help you avoid four common overuse injuries that runners frequently experience: shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and IT (iliotibial) band syndrome.
Shin splints are characterized by sharp pain experienced at the front or inside of the tibia (shin bone). Individuals who have flat feet are more susceptible to shin splints. Typically, shin splints occur when a runner increases the distance or number of days he or she runs too quickly. The treatment for shin splints is rest, stretching, and slowly returning to activity as the pain subsides. Achilles tendinitis is swelling or inflammation of the tendon that runs from the back of the calf to the heel of the foot. Runners notice sharp pain and stiffness in the morning and during activity. This injury is the result of repetitive stress on the tendon and can be caused by tight calf muscles or running too far too soon. Achilles tendinitis should be treated with rest and ice. Stretching and strengthening the lower legs is important to avoid future injury.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by pain in the heel of your foot. Inflammation of the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from heel to toes, can result from either tight lower leg muscles or increasing activity too quickly. Avoid plantar fasciitis by wearing supportive shoes or adding orthotics to shoes. Treatment includes icing the area for pain relief. Exercises to strengthen and stretch the lower leg muscles will also help improve the condition.
IT band syndrome is an injury to the connective tissue along the outside of the
thigh from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee. This injury is the result of inflammation caused by the IT band repetitively rubbing against the outside of the knee. It is often a result of repetitively running downhill or on sloped roadway.
Treatment includes reducing exercise, heat, and stretching before exercise, icing the area after activity and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce discomfort.
Regardless of the injury, don’t push through the pain. Consult a physician if you have pain that doesn’t improve with rest. If you are just starting out, talk with your primary care physician about whether or not running is a good choice for you.
Stephanie Florence is a foot and ankle specialist with UPMC Susquehanna Foot & Ankle at Soldiers + Sailors Memorial Hospital. For more information about Foot and Ankle related injuries, call 570-724-5297.
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