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How To Deal With Common Running Injuries During Race Training


Unrecognizable young runners at the city race

Whether you’re an elite runner training for a personal best in your next marathon or you’re a new runner working your way up to your first 5k, being sidelined by an injury during race training can be both physically and emotionally challenging. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of injuries that can impact runners. With the NYC Marathon just weeks away, this is a subject that is top of mind for many runners dealing with frustrating training injuries.


In this blog, the sports medicine specialists at NY Orthopedics will address some commonly experienced running injuries during race training and explain how to deal with these setbacks in order to get back on your feet faster and prevent the same injuries from happening in the future.


Common Running Injuries

Getting to the bottom of your specific running injury is one of the most crucial aspects of receiving proper treatment. Here’s a look at some of the most common running injuries during race training and how they are caused.


Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is caused by irritation to the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that spans from the heel to the pads of the toes. This irritation results in painful inflammation and heel pain. For runners, pain is typically felt during the push-off phase, as opposed to when the foot makes initial contact. Runners who have flat feet or tight calves may be more likely to develop this condition.


Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis occurs due to overuse or degeneration of the Achilles tendon. The pain associated with Achilles tendonitis is caused by inflammation. The condition occurs gradually over time due to repeated stress on the tendon. Athletes who quickly increase activity level – such as the distance or duration of runs – without giving the body time to adjust are more prone to this injury. Additionally, training in worn-out running shoes may increase your risk for developing Achilles tendonitis.


Patellar Tendonitis

Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper's knee, is caused by overuse of the patellar tendon (the tendon which connects the kneecap to the shinbone). The condition emerges when repeated stress on the tendon causes inflammation and weakening, in some cases this is due to tiny tears forming in the tendon. Like Achilles tendonitis, patellar tendonitis is often the result of a sudden increase in the intensity or frequency of training. Other possible risk factors include having tight leg muscles or muscular imbalances.


Shin Splints

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, are a condition characterized by pain along the shinbone (tibia) and they are one of the most common running injuries during race training. The condition is caused by repetitive stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. Runners who are starting up a new training program are often at a higher risk for developing shin splits. Other risk factors may include having flat feet or high arches, running on uneven terrain or running on hard surfaces, particularly with sudden starts and stops.


Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are defined as tiny cracks in bones, characterized by pain and tenderness. They are caused by repetitive stress on bones, which may include running long distances. In other cases, stress fractures may result from normal activity on bones that have been weakened by osteoporosis. In runners, stress fractures are frequently seen in the bones of the lower legs or feet – the bones that bear most of the weight during activity. Like many of the other common running injuries during race training, stress fractures frequently occur from a rapid increase in duration or intensity of training. In addition to osteoporosis, physical factors such as flat feet or high arches can also increase your risk for developing stress fractures.


Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is characterized by pain where the kneecap rests on the thighbone, which indicates damage to the cartilage under your kneecap. The most common symptom is knee pain that increases when you walk up or down stairs. Runner’s knee is frequently associated with training that involves repetitive stress on the knee or due to misalignment of the kneecap, but it can also develop as a result of an injury involving the kneecap – such as a fracture or dislocation.


Illiotibial Band Syndrome

Illiotibial band syndrome, also known as ITB syndrome, is characterized by pain along the outside (lateral side) of the knee. It is caused when the illiotibial band continuously rubs against the outside of the femur, which leads to inflammation. It is typically the result of a tight IT band. For runners, pain is often felt when the foot strikes the ground. Aside from training habits, other factors that increase the risk for ITB syndrome include anatomical abnormalities in the feet or legs and muscular imbalances.


Dealing With Running Injuries During Race Training

In the majority of cases, running injuries during race training result from overuse and repeated stress. Fortunately, many of these painful conditions can be effectively fixed with conservative treatment options. However, one of the most crucial aspects of successful rehabilitation and future injury prevention is getting adequate rest, which can derail a training program or even postpone your participation in a race.


An evaluation with an experienced orthopedic physician is an important first step when dealing with a running injury in order to assess the severity of your condition and determine which non-surgical treatments are most critical in assisting your recovery. At NY Orthopedics, our sports medicine specialists may recommend treatments that include the following:

  • RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • Modifying your footwear
  • Wearing inserts in the shoes
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises in a physical therapy program
  • Wearing a supportive brace
  • Taping
  • Diversifying your training activities
  • Getting cortisone injections


Get Your Running Injuries Treated in NY

No matter what your injury, continuing a training plan in an attempt to push through the pain can end up doing greater harm to your body. When aches and pains arise, the best policy is to seek out medical attention as early as possible.


While running injuries during race training may be inevitable, they don’t have to put you on the sidelines for good. Schedule an appointment at NY Orthopedics today so we can help you get back to your training and have you feeling confident on the starting line come race day.

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