It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of runners are injured every year. That’s a lot. These injuries are often caused by overuse, which is the repeated force over a prolonged period of time. Sudden changes in training volume, whether you are new or a seasoned vet, can also do some serious damage. Here are a few of the most common ailments associated with runners hitting the pavement.

Runner’s knee. A tender pain around or behind the kneecap is usually a sign of patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is really just a fancy term for “runner’s knee.” The repetitive force of pounding on the pavement, downhill running, muscle imbalances and weak hips can put extra stress on the kneecap, so stick to flat or uphill terrain, and opt for softer running surfaces whenever possible. To treat the pain, try taping your knee or using a knee brace, taking anti-inflammatory medications and cutting back on the amount of miles you’re running.

Achilles tendinitis. The swelling of the Achilles, the tissues that connect your heel to your lower-leg muscles, can be caused by rapid mileage increase, improper footwear, tight calf muscles or even having a naturally flat foot. To help, make sure to always stretch the calf muscles post-workout and wear supportive shoes. Also, take a break from any uphill running or climbing–it places extra stress on the tendons. For relief, try anti-inflammatories, stretching and the R.I.C.E method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).

Shin splints. If you’re a runner, odds are you’ve experienced shin splints before. This condition occurs when the muscles and tendons covering the shinbone become inflamed. To stop the stabbing, stiff pain you can try icing the shins for 15-20 minutes and keeping them elevated at night to reduce swelling. Prevention of shin splints is a bit trickier, though, but researchers have found shock-absorbing insoles that support the arch do help. It is also important to make sure those sneakers are the right fit for the foot and stick to running on softer grounds whenever possible.

Contact us today at Dr. Mark Forman, DPM, FAPWCA, FAPWH in Scottsdale, AZ to learn more about running injuries and how you can prevent these painful conditions and remain in the race.