Walking and running are great for your health… mostly. Unfortunately, walking and running injuries are common and can affect your ability to participate in these daily activities. Here, we break down the top three running/walking injuries and what to do about them.
One of the most common injuries in runners is Achilles tendonitis. This condition presents with pain in the back and bottom of the heel bone. The pain may be sharp, or it can feel like a constant, dull ache. This pain generally increases when you push off for stepping or when you climb stairs.
You can help avoid Achilles tendonitis by stretching your calf and hamstring muscles well before each run. Well-fitting shoes and avoiding steep inclines and declines can also help. If you are experiencing pain from Achilles tendonitis, do not continue your activity.
Use ice and OTC pain medications to treat immediate symptoms, then call the FAAWC for an appointment. Your podiatrist may recommend compression socks, ankle contracture splints to stretch the calf muscle, physical therapy, or complete immobilization for 1-2 weeks.
We talk about this one a lot. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common injuries for athletes and runners. Like Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis presents with pain, mostly in the back and bottom of the heel. This pain will be sharp and often occurs with your first steps in the morning.
Plantar fasciitis pain can be treated with OTC pain meds and ice, but intervention from a podiatrist is necessary to resolve symptoms for good. Your podiatrist might immobilize the plantar fascia with taping or recommend a calf splint. They may offer injections to reduce swelling and promote healing. You may also be prescribed orthotics to assist with good foot movement during activity.
Wearing proper shoes with your new orthotics and paying attention to what your feet are telling you is critical for healing. Recognizing signs and seeking treatment early will increase your chances of eliminating symptoms for good.
Stress fractures occur over time from the constant impact of walking and running. Most often, stress fractures occur in the metatarsal bones (the long bones connected to your toes). These hairline fractures cause a dull, prolonged aching in the ball of the foot.
To diagnose a stress fracture, you will need to see a podiatrist. Your podiatrist will take x-rays of the hurting area to identify the exact location and severity of the fracture. They may run additional tests to rule out whether the fracture occurred due to bone density or nutrition issues. Walking boots are commonly prescribed to help reduce stress on the fracture. You will need to keep pressure off the foot until healing concludes which means limiting or suspending your exercise.
The best way to avoid a stress fracture is to wear well-fitting and padded shoes. Ask your podiatrist about orthotics to help with any improper foot mechanics. Don’t increase your distance, pace, or frequency of exercise suddenly. Stop running when the pain starts and seek treatment immediately.
Exercise is important, but an injury can occur easily and cause significant pain if you aren’t paying attention to the signs and symptoms. To avoid the three most common running/walking injuries, take care of your feet and visit your podiatrist often.