Skip to Content

How to Avoid Common Running Missteps

Last updated: May 1, 2024

With its milder weather and longer days, spring offers an appealing time to start a running routine.

Running and jogging are great for your health. Runners may experience better:

  • Cardio health
  • Sleep
  • Knee and back health
  • Memory
  • Immunity
  • Mood and energy
  • Weight management

Along with the benefits of running can come some common maladies. To learn about injury prevention and treatment, we talked with Dr. David Hirschi, a ThedaCare Orthopedic Care sports medicine and medical director of the Fox Cities Marathon.

Tendonitis

What it is:

Tendonitis is an overuse injury that affects the tendons. Achilles tendonitis is especially common in runners. The tendon gets overstretched, which leads to inflammation and pain. Eventually, it can become difficult to continue running.

How to avoid it:

  • Walk for a few minutes before running
  • Develop strong calves with strengthening exercises
  • Avoid sudden increases in running
  • Ease into a new running plan gradually

How to treat it:

  • Back down on distance and speed
  • Add a rehab program that includes stretching and exercising
  • Ice the injury
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications

Stress Fracture

What it is:

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone. Repetitive force, often from overuse, can lead to the condition. Stress fractures can plague runners who run longer distances. Novice runners who accelerate a new running routine too quickly also are at risk.

At first, people might barely notice the pain associated with a stress fracture, but it tends to worsen with time. The tenderness usually starts at a specific spot and decreases during rest. Swelling may develop around the painful area.

How to avoid it:

  • Make changes in routine slowly, and progress gradually
  • Invest in footwear that fits well and is appropriate for the activity
  • Cross-train
  • Get proper nutrition, ensuring a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D

How to treat it:

A doctor will advise on the best treatment plan. It may include:

  • Rest
  • Icing
  • Pain relievers
  • Elevation
  • Compression
  • Immobilization
  • Crutches

Sprain

What it is:

The accidental stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the affected joint — often an ankle.

How to avoid it:

  • Wear the proper footwear
  • Don’t push through the pain; stop if something hurts
  • Give your body time to rest and recover after intense activity
  • Stretch and warm up before running
  • Cool down and stretch after running

How to treat it:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Strain

What it is:

Strains affect the muscles, often the hamstring, quad, or calf.

“A common scenario is that you’re running and you maybe want to try to hit that five miles or six miles, but your body is starting to feel it,” Dr. Hirschi says. “You push through and all of a sudden you feel that pop or a pull or something. That’s often a pulled muscle or strain.”

How to avoid it:

  • Make changes in routine slowly, and progress gradually
  • Don’t push through the pain; stop if something hurts
  • Give your body time to rest and recover after intense activity
  • Stretch and warm up before running
  • Cool down and stretch after running

How to treat it:

 “The body needs time to reattach things and scar in and heal,” Dr. Hirschi says. “As it does that, then we need to rehab. Activate and stretch so that the body-repairing mechanisms will be in effect.

“Let your body finish the healing process,” he continues. “The next the most important key after that is gradually getting back into things, because if you rush into things, you’ll just re-injure.”

Connecting to Resources and Care

ThedaCare Orthopedic Care is proud to support runners in many ways. That includes creating a training guide for Fox Cities Marathon and ThedaCare Half Marathon participants. Watch for a 2024 version coming soon. In addition, ThedaCare physical therapists are on hand each week for marathon and half marathon training runs, which begin in June.

“We know how dedicated runners are and how difficult it is to take a break,” Dr. Hirschi says. “Listening to your body and backing off when needed can help ensure you can continue running long in to the future.”

Those experiencing an injury can visit ThedaCare Orthopedic Walk-in Care, open seven days a week. To make an appointment, call (920) 831-5050 or schedule online.

Tags: half marathon marathon Running injuries sprains strains stress fracture tendonitis training

Related Articles

Link to the full post Bones & Joints

Understanding Common Baseball Injuries

Link to the full post Bones & Joints

Minimally Invasive Procedure Can Alleviate Tendon Pain