Running is one of those sports that people tend to love or hate. When people love it, they can dedicate much of their lives to jogging trails, sprinting around tracks, running races, and otherwise pounding the pavement. This can be great and healthy for you—it’s an excellent form of exercise—but after a while, it can take a real toll on your body. Injuries can stop you in your tracks for long stretches of time. However, if you treat running injuries with solid physical therapy, you can return to the sport stronger than ever.
Every stride affects your body when you run. Your foot strikes the ground, absorbs the impact, and distributes your body weight as you roll through the arch to the ball of the foot, where you push off again. Each impact is also absorbed by your knees and hips, though to a lesser degree. Your muscles contract and relax repeatedly to swing your leg forward for each step. Over time, the hard pounding and the repetitive motions can overwork your feet, legs, and hips.
Overuse can lead to several common running injuries, including:
Runner’s Knee – When you run and your knee is misaligned, you stress your knee joint and wear down the cartilage protecting your kneecap. This creates pain when you bend that joint repeatedly.
Stress Fractures – Excessive pressure from pounding can lead to cracks in the foot and shin bones. Generally the pain is worse when you’re active and improves with rest.
Shin Splints – Overuse can inflame the tissues around your shin, making it very painful to use them. Typically you feel a burning or aching in the front of your legs when you run.
Tendonitis – Any tendon in your legs or feet can become overworked, irritated, and swollen, making them painful to use. Achilles tendonitis and extensor tendonitis are two common issues for runners.
Pulled Muscles – Also called muscle strain, this is a tiny tear in your tissue. This comes from overstretching a muscle, particularly if done suddenly.
Plantar Fasciitis – Repetitive hard impacts stress the ligament in the sole of your foot that’s attached to your heel. This creates sharp heel pain, especially when you run.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome – Also called IT band syndrome, this is irritation in the tendon that runs on the outside of the knee to stabilize it. Rubbing causes painful inflammation and knee discomfort.
Accidents can always happen on the trails, too, leading to traumatic injuries like ankle sprains.
Best Therapies for Running Injuries
The exact therapies that will make a difference for your lower limbs will depend entirely on your unique needs and your specific injury. Dr. Jennifer Molner will work with you to determine the best course of action for your recovery.
For most injuries, you’ll need to take time off from running as you heal. Although you may not like it, this is an important step in your recovery. In some cases, you might need to wear a brace to stabilize a joint to reduce stress so different tissues can heal. After that, you’ll begin some kind of therapy to improve the strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the injured limb or joint. Manual therapy, sports therapy, joint mobilization, and other methods are all available, depending on what your lower limbs need.
You don’t have to let pain become chronic and keep you from the sport you love. Physical therapy can not only treat running injuries, but also rebuild your strength and get you back on the trail stronger and better prepared than ever. Our team at Castle Pines Physical Therapy can help you make the most of your recovery. Just call to make an appointment at (303) 805-5156.