Common Running Injuries

Common Running Injuries

By Katrina Koller, Licensed Massage Therapist

1. Shin Splints
2. IT band Syndrome
3. Achilles Tendonitis
4. Plantar Fasciitis

1. Shin Splints
What are shin splints exactly?

Shin Splints is a generic term for pain near the tibia or “shin” resulting primarily from overuse or biomechanical issues (over pronating, fallen arches, improper footwear). Typically involves an imbalance/strain of the tendon and overuse of the attached muscles in the calf. It is primarily a soft tissue injury and more rarely involves an actual fracture to the actual Tibia (shin bone). Fractures to the shin bone do and can occur, when more severe and chronic muscle and tendon strains limit the body’s (lower leg’s) ability to absorb shock during the force of weight bearing exercises.

Anterior medial pain (pain in the front of your shin near the inside) = tight gastrocnemius and soleus (muscles in back of calf) and often weak tibialis anterior (muscle in front of calf).

Posterior medial pain (pain in the back of your shin near the inside) = tight posterior tibialis (deep muscle located in the back of calf toward the inside) and often weak tibialis anterior (front of calf toward the outside)

What can make a person prone to Shin Splints?

Improper biomechanics (due to fallen arches, excessive pronation, lack of arch support, improper footwear)

A change in running surfaces, running on hard surfaces or downhill.

A sudden increase in training intensity.

What is the recommended treatment for Shin Spints?

PRICE (Protection, Rest, Ice Compression, Elevation) is generally recommended with 2 weeks of “relative rest” for minor conditions and up to 3 months of relative rest for serious conditions. Relative rest involves refraining from running but maintaining cardiac training through other means such as stationary cycling or pool running. Orthopedic or anatomically focused “deep tissue” massage can speed recovery by increasing health of affected soft tissue (soft tissue = tendons, muscles, ligaments and fascia). Strengthening the Anterior Tibialis can also be helpful.
2. IT Band Tension Syndrome

IT band syndrome is a strain in the Iliotibial (IT) Tract or “Band” – a thick tendon that runs down the lateral (outer side) of the leg – which is commonly caused by a muscles strains of the gluteus maximus, Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and/or an imbalance of the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis (inner and outer thigh muscles). Chronic IT band pain can lead to improper tracking of the patella (knee cap). Pain often corresponds with activity and overuse.

Recommended Treatment: Proper IT band stretching, foam rollers, and therapeutic massage can help prevent, assess and treat IT Band Syndrome and its root causes. Since inflammation is less common, anti-inflammatory medications are not always an effective treatment.

3. Achilles Tendontis – the tearing of tendon fibers of the achilles tendon due to running on uneven surfaces or repetitive motions of running, jumping and landing on the toes. A tight soleus muscle is usually involved. This type of injury comes on slow and can be often overlooked before becoming serious.

Recommended Treatment: For less serious conditions (first and second degree tendon tears), PRICE is recommended (see treatment for shin splints). Treat as early as possible! Gentle frequent stretching of the soleus with a bent knee can be a preventative measure. Therapeutic massage can be preventative and can assess address root causes.

4. Plantar Fasciitis – an overuse condition of the foot causing inflammation and irritation of the plantar fasica. It results from improper forces to the foot. Fallen arches can be a critical factor as well as tight gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Wearing high heels, weight gain and pregnancy can also play a role. Improper foot plant (walking on the outside of foot) can lead to plantar fasciitis as well. The role of the plantar fascia is to absorb shock from the weight of the body. Pain worsens after rest, especially when getting out of bed.

Recommended Treatment: Stretching, rest, avoidance of prolonged plantar flexion (for example sleeping with a heavy blanket over the feet while back sleeping), anti-inflammatory meds, therapeutic massage to restore health of the plantar fascia and address root causes.

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