Avoiding these two common running injuries

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Serious runners often take an injury as a disaster that sidelines them to the couch until they’re well enough to go back on track. The causes of running injuries vary; they can result from overtraining, overuse, improper form, or even the wrong pair of shoes.

Fortunately, runners can minimize the risk of injury while training for or running in a race. The following are two common running injuries and tips on how to prevent them.

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Plantar fasciitis is a condition wherein the plantar fascia, the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot, becames overloaded or overstretched, causing a stabbing pain that comes and goes.

To prevent it, runners should maintain a healthy weight, run on gentle surfaces such as a track or grass, and limit mileage increases to 10 percent per week. Stretching exercises that work the heel cord and the plantar fascia and ice massages after a hard run can prevent the condition from recurring. In addition, runners should choose shoes that provide ample cushioning and arch support.

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Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS), also known as “runner’s knee,” is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners. It is characterized by knee pain, knee buckling, and a grinding or popping sensation while walking.

It occurs when the kneecap cartilage becomes overloaded due to poor alignment or overuse. PPS has many possible causes, from flat fleet that provide no cushioning, to wide hips and a greater Q angle that causes the kneecap to track abnormally.

To reduce the risk of PPS, runners could try exercises that strengthen the leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps, to improve kneecap tracking, and stretching exercises for the calves and hamstrings to promote a neutral running gait.

If runners feel pain, they shouldn’t force themselves to run through it or keep training: doing so might worsen the injury. At the first sign of injury, runners should scale back their mileage, get plenty of rest, and consider seeing a physician if the problem shows no signs of abating.

Steven Rindner is a marathon running enthusiast. For helpful articles on marathon running, subscribe to this blog.

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