Recover Faster From These 3 Common Running Injuries
Running may be a non-contact sport, but it still asks a lot from your body. In fact, most runners will experience a chronic or overuse injury. These injuries can limit or put a stop to your running altogether, so it’s important to avoid them.
Some of the most common runner’s injuries are shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), and plantar fasciitis. In this blog we’re going to talk about what causes these injuries and how you can prevent these injuries through lifestyle and daily routine changes.
the three most common running injuries
Shin splints are often the result of exercising too much — specifically an overload of force to the shin or lower leg. If you have shin splints, you’ll notice pain, tenderness, and soreness along the shin or tibial bone. In addition to runners, tennis players, basketball players, soccer players, and military members are all at risk for shin splints.
What causes shin splints?
Shin splints are caused by an overload of forces to your legs. In other words, you might get shin splints if your muscles, bones, and fascia (the connective tissue around your muscles) are having trouble absorbing the impacts that happen during your exercise. Running is a high-impact activity, so the wrong kind of impact can do damage pretty fast.
This overload to your legs can be caused by many things. For example, it can be caused by muscle imbalances, having a high arch or flat foot, or a sudden increase in the intensity, frequency, or volume of your training. Bad shoes, a poor warm-up, and running on hard surfaces can also increase your risk.
IT Band Syndrome
The iliotibial band (IT band) is a bundle of fibers that stretches from your hip to the outside of your knee. When your IT band gets inflamed or tight, you might notice swelling or pain, usually around the attachment site in your knee. Often the pain gets so bad that you can’t run at all.
What causes IT band syndrome?
During activity, the IT band moves back and forth across the outside of the knee. If your muscles aren’t pliable, this movement can cause friction, create pain, and inflame the knee area. Runners and cyclists are most prone to IT band syndrome because of how often they flex and extend their knees.
Besides overuse, other factors can put you at a higher risk for IT band syndrome. For example, you might be more likely to develop IT band syndrome if you lack pliable tissue or have a muscular imbalance at the hips or glutes. Poor technique, bad form, or an asymmetric body can also increase the risk of ITBS.
At the bottom of your foot, fibrous tissue stretches from your heels to your toes to support the muscles and arch of the foot. When this tissue gets tense, tight, or inflamed, you start to feel pain in the bottom of your foot. This inflammation is called plantar fasciitis, and it can make walking or running difficult.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis, like ITBS and shin splints, can be caused by a lack of muscle pliability. Other factors that can put you at risk for plantar fasciitis include the following:
- Low arches (flat feet) or high arches
- Increased or decreased mobility in the bones of the foot
- Dense fascia or tight muscles in your calves
- Poor form
- Worn out shoes with too many miles on them
- Improper gait
If you already have these problems, how can you recover?
To recover from any of these conditions, you need to take three important steps:
- Roll your muscles.
- Eat well.
We’ll talk about all three below
Roll your muscles — prevent injury by using a self-pliability device
Using a self-pliability device like a TB12 Vibrating Pliability Roller or Sphere is a great way to maintain tissue pliability. Pliable muscle is long, soft, lean, and is able to fully absorb and distribute the forces encountered during sport.
As you’re rolling, spend extra time on the target muscles or in the area of pain or discomfort. Doing this will maximize tissue pliability and decrease tension in the symptomatic areas. While taking time to roll your entire leg is important, you should target these areas in particular:
- Shin splints: Roll the front of the shin, the back of the lower leg (calf), and underneath the foot.
- Iliotibial band: Roll the glutes, IT band, quad, hamstrings, groin, front of the shin, and calf.
- Plantar fascia: Roll underneath the foot, along the calf, and the front of the shin
Keep your muscles hydrated by drinking enough water
As a rule, Tom Brady drinks half his body weight in fluid ounces of water every day. Water can help your joints, muscles, and improve your pliability, which in turn helps your muscles to work better together. Hydration also contributes in the battle against inflammation, aids tissue repair and growth, transports nutrients to your cells, and helps with the removal of waste. Hydration is essential for preventing running injuries.
Eat a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet
Most of the injuries we just talked about are caused by inflammation through the repetitive forces involved in running. Therefore, minimizing inflammation in your body may help to reduce symptoms as your body heals. You can do this by changing what you eat.
Minimize pro-inflammatory foods (dairy, processed foods, and gluten). Maximize anti-inflammatory foods (vegetables, fruits, and nuts). Each meal should be half colorful vegetables, half lean protein and whole grains. Limit refined sugars and trans fats.
If you’re healthy right now, how can you avoid injury?
The best way to maintain pliable muscles and limit muscle tightness is to do pliability work before and after your run. You can do this using a TB12 Vibrating Pliability Roller or Sphere. To maintain muscular symmetry, balance, full range of motion, and core strength without overloading the joints, spend time cross-training with a TB12 Handled or Looped Resistance Band. To help you get started, we listed some exercises below.
5 Exercises for Fighting Common Running Injuries
You can improve your pliability, mobility, and stability by adding the right exercises to your routine. Incorporate these five exercises into your workout to protect your body against shin splints, IT band syndrome, and plantar fasciitis.
Banded Glute Bridge
Equipment: TB12 short looped band.
Here’s what you do:
- Place a TB12 short looped band just above your knees.
- Lie on your back with your feet hip width apart, about 6-8 inches away from your glutes.
- Using your glutes, raise your hips into the air, then slowly lower them to the floor. Repeat this motion 12 times.
As you activate your glutes, you want to feel an opening in the hips. Your core should be active throughout the exercise. Each time your hips come up, breathe out, then breathe in as you lower your hips.
Glute Medius Side Plank with Straight Leg Hip Abduction
As the name suggests, this functional exercise strengthens your glute medius, core, and hips.
Here’s what you do:
- Lie on your side with your lower knee bent.
- Distribute your weight between your lower leg and and elbow.
- Lift your upper leg and upper arm in the air and hold both steady while contracting your core and glutes.
- In a quick repeated motion, lift your upper leg straight into the air and lower it back down. Keep the rest of your body still.
- Continue for two minutes, and then repeat for the other side.
90/90 Single Leg Balance
The 90/90 single-leg balance improves your balance by solidifying your base of support, strengthens your core (mainly your hip flexors), and improves power production in your glutes.
Frequency: 2-3 minutes each side
Here’s what you do:
- Hold your arms like you’re a field goal post — 90 degrees in each elbow, hands straight up.
- Raise one leg and bend your knee at a 90-degree angle. (You can see why we call this exercise 90/90.) Your quad should be parallel to the ground.
- Hold your balance in this position. Do not lean to either side or tap your raised leg to the ground. If you need to regain balance, try hopping on your plant leg instead.
- Keep your glute flexed by “pushing” your plant foot into the ground.
- Switch to the other side and hold balance on your other leg.
Four-directional Toe Touches
Here’s what you do:
- Stand upright and balance on one leg.
- Tap your elevated foot straight out to your side.
- Then, tap that same leg back and diagonal from your body.
- Then, tap your foot straight behind your body.
- Finally, cross your elevated leg behind your planted leg.
- Repeat this motion continuously for 2 minutes, and then switch to the other leg.
During this exercise, it’s important that you keep your plant leg stable and keep your knee still.
Here’s what you do:
- Stand upright on one leg to start.
- Hinge at your hips and lean forward with your upper body.
- Extend your arms overhead and lean until your upper body is parallel with the ground.
- At the time time, elevate and extend your non-plant leg.
- Return to the starting position, repeat for two minutes, and then switch to the other leg.
During this exercise, it’s important to keep a straight back. Keep your plant leg stable.
To make sure you can always do what you love, stay one step ahead
For most runners, running isn’t just a sport — it’s a way to survive. That’s why staying ahead of running injuries through consistent pliability work and healthy lifestyle choices is so important. It enables you to do what you love, do it better, and never stop.