Running creates stress and is thus destructive. Our bodies respond to the stress by strengthening themselves. However, this strengthening does not occur during the running; it occurs during rest after the running. Thus, to prevent injuries, we must have sufficient rest that our bodies can strengthen themselves and eliminate the stress. If we don't have sufficient rest, residues of stress remain and accumulate, and eventually this stress will cause injuries. Many running injuries can be avoided if we have sufficient rest, if we keep our training within the capabilities of our bodies to handle stress, and if we stretch to strengthen our muscles. For suggestions on preventing injuries, see my page Preventing Injury.
In this section, I am giving descriptions of common running injuries; the descriptions are paraphrases from The Runners Repair Manual, by Dr. Murray F. Weisenfeld, and from various web sites. Because that book is copyrighted and is still being sold, I will not give the stretch exercises and treatment that Weisenfeld recommends for the injuries. The book can be purchased for less than $11 at Amazon.
The RICE procedure can be used for several days after an injury to reduce swelling, to control pain, and to promote healing.
R - Rest
I - Ice
C - Compression
E - Elevation
I - Ice
C - Compression
E - Elevation
Rest to allow your body to begin the healing process. Stop all activities that cause pain.
Ice for 15 or 20 minutes at a time during the first 24 - 48 hours after the injury; keep a cloth between the ice and your skin. Icing helps reduce swelling.
Compress the injured muscles with an elastic bandage. This helps reduce swelling.
Elevate the injury area to increase blood circulation. Raise the injured part above the heart. Increased blood circulation helps increase healing.
Running injuries come from stress, and this site gives traditional ways of reducing the stress. In addition, there are alternative ways of reducing stress. One alternative is meditation. The National Institutes of Health has a center for alternative medicine, and the NIH page for that center gives a good introduction to mediation. In addition, the University of Wisconsin has reported that meditation changes the brain and helps persons to have more compassion and empathy towards others.
If you're like me and aren't familiar with anatomical terms, refer to Arnold's Glossary of Anatomy.
Common Running Injuries
The folks at smoothfitness.com have created a graphic that illustrates the common injuries that runners experience. Here is the introductory paragraph from that site, followed by the graphic.
Despite all its benefits, running isn’t without risk. Every year, 36 million people in the United States run, and 40% to 50% of them suffer at least one running injury. It’s not uncommon for a runner to trip and fall, sustaining cuts and scrapes, and sometimes even broken bones. And if you don’t wear the right shoes, you can get some pretty nasty blisters. But the more common running injuries are those that come from running itself.Click on the image to see a larger view.
Your body is like any piece of machinery. The more you use it, the more wear and tear it endures, and that wear sometimes manifests as injuries. The more often and the longer distance you run, the higher the probability you’ll suffer a running injury. You also become more susceptible to running injuries as you age. Even kids suffer running injuries at a rate of about 16,000 per year. In addition, it’s not just outdoor runners who get injured. Running on a treadmill requires just as much care and preparation to avoid running injuries.
This diagram shows some of the most common running injuries, how to treat them, and how to avoid them altogether. If you do suffer a running injury, there are alternative exercises you can do with other fitness accessories while you recover. The most important thing to remember is, if your running injury is serious, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. Better to have it treated immediately than have it become a chronic condition that impairs your running forever.
Here are great pages that give in-depth reviews of sports injuries.