Long Distance Running and Injuries

Having completed my first and probably last marathon, I had the first hand opportunity to observe many types of injuries during a long distance run. I will be covering the first two long distance running injuries in this blog.

Shin splints

This problem typically occurs during repetitive motions such as running, walking, and cycling. It is caused by placing too much strain on the front muscle groups of the leg. This condition is also called Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTTS). The pain is usually on the inside of the leg or the outside and is described as a sharp burning pain. Runners who have inadequately stretched and have not trained properly will most likely suffer some form of shin splints. Also, improper shoe gear, running up hill, and running on banked trails can cause symptoms to worsen. The pain will actually hurt more in the morning since muscles tend to tighten during the night and it will be difficult to raise your foot up using your ankle since the muscles responsible for that movement are affected.

The way to treat shin splints is quite easy. Stop the activity that is causing the pain and start stretching.The proper stretch is to sit on your legs with your toes pointed behind you. This stretch works very well since you are using your own body weight to help stretch the front muscle group of the legs. Compression stockings or sleeves will also help to decrease symptoms when running. Essentially the phrase “too much, too soon” should be avoided whenever you are training for any long distance run. Gradually increase your mileage over time so that your muscles and body can adjust to the new added stress.

Achilles Tendinitis (AT)

Pain at the back of the ankle can be very debilitating and unfortunately is quite common for runners. Patients describe the pain as a dull ache or a sharp pain when performing activities. This condition is caused by overstraining of the Achilles tendon which is the largest and most powerful tendon in the body. As we run and push off the Achilles tendon is constantly being used and therefore symptoms increase. Patients who are not stretching adequately or are training aggressively on hills can develop these symptoms easily. Also, over pronators, (their feet rotate too far inward on impact) have an increase in AT.

Treatment is stopping the activity causing the pain. Taking ibuprofen, icing, and massage therapy all help with the pain. After the inflammation has calmed down you should not just start running again. You have to gradually increase your activity so that you do not injure your AT again. Stretching of the tendon will also help to reduce tension and strain. Placing your toes on a step and then gradually letting your heels fall to the ground will result in a great stretch of the tendon. Custom orthotics to prevent over pronation will help to decrease stress on the Achilles. Kinesiology Taping (KT taping) also helps to reduce strain to the Achilles by supporting the muscles attached to the tendon and is used when running.

If you experience any of these problems please call 813-875-0555. The doctors of Advanced Podiatry will help you get back on your feet today!