Common Running Injuries
Jacqueline Prevete, DPM
As a podiatrist and fellow runner myself, foot and ankle injuries are a daily part of my own life and the patients I treat. Treating acute pain as a result of overuse is important, but prevention of these injuries from occurring before they start is even more important! Listed here are a few common running injuries as well as ways to prevent them from occurring. If they do start to cause acute, consistent pain, it’s better to have them evaluated before they start to sideline you from workouts and/or races.
Heel pain / Achilles tendinitis
I tend to group these two together even though they are different conditions because of their common cause – tight calf muscles. The key to preventing both of these conditions from occurring is consistent stretching of the gastroc/soleus complex, also known as the lower leg / calf muscles. You can easily do this against a wall, off of a curb, or with a calf board in the gym. Stretching can be preventative in causing inflammation of both the back and bottom of the heel.
The key to preventing stress fractures is usually training related so the tendons and bony structures of the foot and ankle aren’t overloaded with too much mileage too soon. To prevent stress fractures that occur from overuse, an increase in mileage usually should not exceed 10-20% per week. However, there are some biomechanical / structural issues that can be addressed so stress fractures do not occur. This would likely require a set of foot x-rays to evaluate for certain structural deformities that could put you at increased risk for stress fractures to occur. Treatment options, both preventative and curative, are available based on these x-ray which we can take in our office.
Ball of Foot Pain
Pain in the ball of the foot (more generally known as metatarsalgia) can be related to many different structures given the dense anatomy of the area. This type of pain can be due to structural issues with your feet as well as shoe / sneaker selection. Runners tend to sustain very specific injuries affecting the toes and metatarsals due to repetitive impact, which can best be prevented with appropriate footwear and an over the counter or customized insert that is placed in the shoe. If pain persists, further treatment is indicated and can be employed to prevent flare ups in symptoms going forward.
Sprains of the ankle can be sustained while running or walking. Preventative measures including taping or bracing while running as well as avoiding uneven surfaces, especially when recovering from a recent sprain. Physical therapy can be integrative in rehabilitation of a previous injury and can also be preventative to avoid injuries going forward. Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain and/or your foot structure, further work up is indicated, especially in the setting of recurrent ankle sprains that continue to sideline the athlete.
As always, consult with a medical professional if you are having consistent pain in the foot or ankle. At Foot & Ankle Surgeons of New York, we offer preventative care as well as curative treatment that keeps you active, healthy, and ready to drop the hammer when it counts!