JAMA on Running Injuries and Injury Prevention

running-manIn an article titled “Running Injuries” published in the July edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, author Dr. Jill Jin discusses different types of injuries associated with running and how these injuries can be prevented. Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise in the United States, with over 40 million people staying in shape by logging miles on the treadmill, the pavement, or in the park. Unfortunately, it’s not without risk of injury.

Common Running Injuries

Most injuries associated with running are due to the repetitive nature of the activity, and usually involve the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones of the leg. Common injuries include:

Knee pain – there are a number of different conditions that may affect runners with knee pain. Patellofemoral pain syndrome is felt at the front of the knee near the kneecap, and tends to worsen after long periods of sitting or when climbing up or down stairs or hills. Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome is felt along the outside of the thigh, and may extend from the knee all the way up to the hip.

Shin splints – common among new runners and runners who have recently increased the speed, distance, or frequency of exercise, shin splints are caused by overuse of the muscles, tendons, and bones of the lower leg.

Foot pain – stress fractures, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis can all affect long-distance runners and are usually caused by overuse or repetitive motion.

How to Decrease Your Risk of Injury from Running

Running is a great way to stay in shape, and if you do it safely, you can do it long into your life. The best ways to lower your risk of injury include:

  • Starting slow and gradually increasing your speed and distance, especially if you are new to running
  • Getting plenty of rest—24 to 48 hours in between bouts of strenuous exercise
  • Wearing comfortable shoes with plenty of support, and replacing them as they get worn out (usually after every 300 – 500 miles)
  • Running on soft surfaces (dirt or grass, treadmill, track) instead of hard surfaces (concrete, asphalt)
  • Warming up properly before running (note: while many people like to stretch before running, this has never been shown to reduce injury rates. Instead, start with a quick walk or light jog before you get up to your usual speed)

Treating Running Injuries

Many minor running injuries can be taken care of using the RICE method—rest, ice, compression, elevation. But for more serious injuries, or injuries that last a several days without going away, more serious treatment may be required. The physicians at Southwest Spine & Sports treat all kinds of sports-related and other injuries in patients throughout Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale, and Tempe, AZ. We are at the forefront of innovation in regenerative medicine, including stem cell and PRP therapy, and we have helped heal pain in thousands of patients throughout the area. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (480) 860-8998 or click here to contact us online!