If you run for any amount of time, there is a very high chance that you will suffer some sort of injury. For many runners, as soon as they recover from one injury, they injure another body part because they try to come back too aggressively to recover lost time. Sadly, that can lead to more time off your feet and more money spent going through sports rehab.
Here are some of the most common injuries that runners face, and what you need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Achilles Tendonitis (tendonosis):
Orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors say Achilles injuries are one of the most common (if not THE MOST COMMON) type of injuries to runners. Part of the problem is runners often fail to stretch adequately before, or after, training sessions. This one little tendon takes the bulk of the impact on every single stride, so it's no wonder that it's often fails.
The Gold-Standard for recovery are "Eccentric Strengthening Exercises."
The "single leg heel" drop is where you stand on the edge of a step and slowly lower your heels below the level of your toes. This will stretch the fibers of Achilles and re-align the fibers for proper healing. This can also be done in the gym with a seated calf machine where you can "load" the muscle even more to build up the Achilles for all the miles that will ensue.
One of the most frustrating, and common, injuries runners face are in the knee. Doctors will often cite knee problems as the number one reason you need to stop running, but other sports medicine doctors will say that runner can help knees healthy in the long run. One orthopedic surgeon we talked to about this story says that if he "stopped doing knee surgeries, he would lose about half of his weekly business." So the knee is serious business.
It makes sense that runners will injure this body part often because of the bio-mechanical issues that impact the area. From over-pronation, to weak quads, to tight IT bands, and hip misalignment, it all impacts the knee.
From a personal standpoint, it can take a year for full recovery. After a "meniscus trim" in 2018, along with rebuilding part of my knee cap and fibula, I felt able to run after a few weeks, but many of my other body parts worked together to protect my surgically repaired knee, keeping me sidelined for the better part of 12 months. As my surgeon told me, "your body is trying to figure out trauma just happened, so don't get frustrated. All of your tendons that connect in that area are doing their best to understand a new normal, so take it slow." As a runner, I hated the advice, but ultimately by body gave me no choice but rest.
You would think that constant running would build all the leg muscles the same, but it doesn't. When you start to get an imbalance of muscles in the legs, it can begin to cause problems with the muscles groups that aren't reacting as well.
The common thinking by runners is that they simply need to stretch out their hamstrings more, but that can lead to even more problems. Overly stretched out muscles can cause just as many problems are hamstrings that are too tight. If you find yourself in this situation, it's time to build them up.
Physical therapists often use a program of strengthening hamstrings with a variety of exercises, while keeping the area limber with foam rolling and massage. PT's tell me that the biggest problem once a runner is over their hamstring issue is they go back to ignoring the area once they are back in a running program. The key is to keep doing the total body strengthening exercises when healthy in order to make sure you stay that way.