Running is one of the easiest ways to keep fit wherever you are. This natural form of exercise does wonders to your body: it strengthens your muscles and bones, burns a lot of calories and helps you keep your cardiovascular health in tiptop shape.
Another common running injury is the inflammation of your Achilles tendon or Achilles tendonitis. As the largest tendon in your body, the Achilles tendon experiences a lot of strain, especially when running. Overuse, repetitive stress, increased distance or workload and straining of the calf muscles lead to little tears on the Achilles tendon over time. These tears cause pain and swelling. It can even calcify or grow so stiff that it loses full range of motion. This pain and stiffness worsen with activity. Aside from these factors, Achilles tendonitis can also be caused by calcaneal spurs or abnormal bone growths around your heel.
One can prevent swollen Achilles tendons by beginning their running routine with a good stretch, or focus on low-impact exercises that do not stress the Achilles tendon. If you suspect that you are suffering from this common injury, it is best to rest the affected foot and apply a cold compress to it. Rest is very important in Achilles tendonitis as further strain may cause the tendon to rip off completely. A ruptured tendon will then require surgical measures. So, before it worsens, rest your affected leg and allow it to heal.
If Achilles tendonitis deals with ankle pain, plantar fasciitis occurs when the ligament around your heel swells and gets inflamed. This is caused by prolonged strain, repeated misuse or excessive running or walking over long distances. It occurs in people around 40-60 years old and is often exacerbated by obesity. Poor running form or shoes that don’t offer adequate support also contribute to plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis presents as pain the in the foot or heel, especially when it bears weight, as in standing, walking or running. The foot or heel can also feel stiff after long instances of being immobile.
Plantar fasciitis can be prevented by avoiding excessive pronation--- this is a major factor in plantar fasciitis, so look for shoes that offer adequate arch support. If you are overweight, shedding some extra pounds should ease the strain on your heels, too. Exercises that aim to stretch the toes and calves are also helpful. If you are experiencing plantar fasciitis, your physician may recommend night splints and foot orthotics to increase the heel support while you are recuperating.
Shin splints are common in beginning runners or those who suddenly increase their workload or miles. They’re also common in other athletes who use a lot of legwork, like soccer players or basketball players. They’re usually caused by weak leg muscles, improper footwear or running techniques. Running on uneven surfaces and too long running strides can also cause shin splints.
Shin splints manifest as pain or swelling along the inside of the shin bone (tibia), and overstretching of muscles in the same area. It can be relieved through the tried and tested RICE method. If you feel swelling in your leg after running or exercising, rest the affected leg and put some ice on it. Don’t forget to elevate it to reduce swelling.