Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Although his principle doesn’t apply to all objects and situations, it certainly has an application to sports and running. Every time your foot hits the ground during your stride, that force is bounced right back to your feet and legs. The law helps to explain why running injuries are so common.
Basic Principles to Avoid Running Injuries
How can you prevent injury? First, condition your feet and legs. Do exercises to keep your muscles and tendons strong, and stretches to keep them flexible. That way all your soft tissues are able to better absorb some of that trauma from landing on hard surfaces.
Second, don’t make quick changes in your routine. Your body needs time to assimilate new motions and exertion levels, so make changes little by little. Make sure warmups and cool downs are part of your routine, too.
Third, get the right equipment. For running, that is basically your shoes. Take the time, effort, and money to get a quality pair that fits properly, with room for your toes and proper support for your arch type. Our expert staff and our Right Fit Shoe Store in Palm Coast can help determine what your particular feet need in a running shoe.
Finally, get expert help with biomechanics and technique. We’ll analyze your gait for abnormalities that contribute to running injuries. Sometimes use of custom orthotics or different running techniques can make a huge difference.
Common Foot and Ankle Complaints in Runners
- Plantar fasciitis causes sharp pain under your heel. It is often felt first thing after a night’s rest or after sitting for a long time, but can appear during and after a run, too. The ligament running from your heel to toes becomes stretched, torn and inflamed, causing pain where it pulls on the heel bone. Rest, icing, massages, stretches, and use of orthotics to rebalance your foot can all help with the pain and allow the fascia to heal.
- Achilles tendinitis is a similar condition involving the heel cord and heel bone. The damaged and inflamed tendon can cause pain at the back of the heel, but responds well to cold therapy and reconditioning the calf muscles and Achilles with stretches and strengthening exercises. Heel drops are especially effective and carry less risk than aggressive calf stretches.
- A stress fracture is a slight crack in the surface of your foot, ankle or leg bones. Overuse and repeated impact can cause gradual weakening until the bone gives under the pressure. This is not the time to “run through” your pain. Stress fractures need rest to heal, period. Plan on six weeks off from running, but once healed, it shouldn’t give further problems.
- Extensor tendonitis involves inflammation in the tendon that runs from your lower shin muscle along the top of the ankle to the toes. It can be caused by a tight Achilles or calf muscles, tight shoes, tight lacing patterns—anything that puts pressure on the top of your foot and irritates the tendon.
- Adductor and abductor hallucis muscles run along the inner edge of your foot by your arch. They work in conjunction with each other, so when one is too tight, the other is overstretched. Pain can resemble extensor tendonitis or plantar fasciitis, but is located more on your inner arch. We can show you exercises to strengthen a weak muscle and stretch out a tight one that will help them work in balance without pain.
Act Promptly to Heal More Quickly
These common running injuries, along with shin splints, runner’s knee, iliotibial band syndrome, and hamstring problems, should be treated promptly so they don’t develop into serious issues that take longer to resolve. At the first sign of pain, inflammation, or swelling, call Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates and schedule an appointment with our expert podiatrists. The locations and numbers are listed below. We are ready to help you run pain and injury free!