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Common trail running injuries
May 18, 2016
IT band syndrome - The illiotibial band is a long band of fascia that runs from the outer hip down the outside of the thigh to the outside of the knee on the tibia. Runners tend to have lateral leg pain that normally starts at the knee and moves its way up. The reasons for developing ITBS are numerous and it’s tough to identify the exact biomechanical cause. Tightness of the IT-band, weakness in the hips, overuse, poor running form and (of course) improper footwear can all lead a raging case of ITBS.
Prevent & alleviate: Foam rolling your outer thigh, stretching and gradually increasing your running distance can help ward off this annoying condition.
Ankle sprains – Common due to uneven ground of the trail.
Prevent: Strengthening ankle & balancing exercises. Example: one leg stands for 30-60 seconds. Then increase difficulty with standing on one leg on a cushion or bosu ball for 30-60 seconds.
Alleviate: RICE ... Rest (for a week or two), Ice, Elevation, Compression.
Achilles Tendonitis – Often due to extensive climbing (up hills) of trail running. The Achilles tendon is the thick tendon connecting your calf muscles to the heal bone allowing you to walk, run, jump and push down with your foot. Achilles tendonitis can present in two ways, insertional vs. non-insertional. Insertional Achilles tendonitis initially presents as pain at the heel where the Achilles tendon connects. As the condition becomes chronic, the tendon can thicken and a bone spur can develop off the heel. Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis is when there is micro-tearing of the tendon fibers in the middle of the tendon. This can result in thickening and weakening of the tendon. If ignored, Achilles tendonitis can result in a traumatic rupture of the tendon requiring a surgical repair. A sudden increase in the amount or intensity of running, improper shoes or tight calf muscles can lead to the onset of this type of chronic condition.
Prevent & alleviate: Foam roll the Achilles tendon, calf stretching and ankle band exercises.
Plantar Fasciitis- Heel pain and painful initial first steps in the morning are the first signs of plantar fasciitis. It’s an inflammatory process of the thick fibrous band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes. Most common in people with high arches or flat feet, plantar fasciitis can start as a mildly uncomfortable condition and become debilitating painful.
Prevent & Alleviate: Wearing properly supportive running shoes and stretching your calf and plantar fascia before and after running, can help ward off this annoying pain.
MTSS - The dreaded shin splints - Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is an inflammation of the tendons, muscles and attachment sites along the inner side of the tibia(shin bone). It is sometimes described as sharp or sometimes dull and aching. The pain can be present during running, after running or both. Each patient is different. Identifying the exact reason for developing MTSS is tough. Quickly increasing your running distance and intensity can be a cause of onset, as can improper footwear, lower leg muscle weakness and abnormal foot shape. MTSS can be hard to treat and can lead to more serious issues
Stress Reaction/Fracture - The cumulative pounding that the bones of the lower legs of runners can take its toll. Bone is constantly remodeling, changing to the forces applied to it. Too much force too fast can cause bone to have a “stress reaction”; the rate of the bone breaking down (osteoclastic) is faster than the rate of the bone rebuilding (osteoblastic). As this process gets worse, the bone becomes weaker and more fragile. Not only painful, but this condition can predispose you to stress fractures. Cross-training, avoiding too much too fast and wearing the right shoes can help prevent stress related injuries.
Trail running is fun, healthy and never boring. Pay attention to your body, use the right equipment (proper footwear) and watch where you’re running and you shouldn’t have issues this season. Oh, and always look out for mountain lions, too.
TRAIL TIP: Bring water if your run is over 4 miles. It's easy to become dehydrated from the uphill climbing and warm weather.
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