Common Running Injuries
In the course of your running journey, you will experience ups and downs. Sometimes you’ll be healthy and feel invincible. And other times you’ll incur running injuries that leave you sidelined for a while. Up and down, good and bad, all are part of the wonderful tapestry that is marathon training.
The following sections will allow you to find the ailment you have and get more information on causes, treatment, and preventions.
Running knee pain
Many runners experience knee pain at some point. Knee running injuries and knee pain are some of the most common issues runners face. When pounding the pavement, especially if you’re overweight or chubby, will do damage to your knees over time. So, where does it hurt?
Pain behind knee
This is a common reason for pain behind the knee. It’s what happens when knee fluid leaks out of the joint and collects in a lump behind the knee and into the calf. Larger cysts can cause pressure on muscles and nerves. Many physicians see Baker’s Cyst as an indicator of other issues like arthritis.
Gastrocnemius tendonitis (calf strain)
Sometimes upper leg muscles like the hamstring can cause pain in the knee. The same is true for lower leg muscles and tissues. When soleus or the gastrocnemius (calf) muscles experience fatigue, strain, or tear, they can manifest as posterior (behind) knee pain. Gastrocnemius tendonitis could also be an issue.
Pain on the inside of the knee
The meniscus is the cartilage that protects the knee joint.
A tear of the medial meniscus can result in pain on the inside of the knee. The meniscus can also wear down over time and cause pain when running.
Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs that prevent bones, tendons, and muscles from rubbing together. Inflammation in the bursa may lead to inner knee pain. This is typically caused by overuse of the knee joint and is felt around 2 to 3 inches below the knee joint.
Pain on the outside of the knee
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
IT band syndrome is one of the most common running injuries. This refers to the thick fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of your leg, from hip to shin bone (tibia) to provide stability. A syndrome like this typically occurs when the iliotibial band, the ligament that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the shin, is tight or inflamed.
Pain bending knee
Also known as “runner’s knee,” is a condition that describes pain in the front of the knee and around the kneecap, known as the patella.
Common causes of the condition are overuse of the knee joint or trauma, such as falling on the kneecap. Symptoms range from uncomfortable to very painful, and they can usually be treated at home. You may be able to reduce your pain with rest and other simple treatment measures.
Other reasons for pain when bending the knee could be:
- IT band syndrome
- Patellar tendonitis
- Baker’s cyst
- Knee pain after running
Swelling in the knee can be caused by a number of things that range from injury to other more serious medical issues like arthritis.
Swelling is a sign of inflammation, which is a buildup of fluid around a damaged area causing the area to become larger and puffier. There are different kinds of inflammation that can occur in the knee:
- Effusion — swelling inside the knee joint
- Edema — swelling in tissues that surround the joint
- Hemarthrosis — the buildup of blood and swelling inside the joint
Swelling, can be broken down into two basic areas, acute or chronic:
Acute swelling may result from a running injury and heal quickly, within a day.
Chronic swelling can last much longer and are a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Common causes of knee swelling and inflammation:
- Acute running injuries like torn cartilage or tendonitis
Runners are no strangers to leg pain. Calf, quads, and hammies are all utilized when running and can become stressed, fatigued and sore leading to pain. Let’s start with the big one, the quadriceps.
Pain in thigh
The quadriceps, or quads, is one of the largest muscles in the body. So you’re bound to have fatigue that could lead to pain in the thigh.
The quadriceps muscles are composed of the following on the right side:
And on the left side:
- Rectus Femoris
- Vastus Lateralis
- Left Vastus Medialis
Pain, soreness, or stiffness on the front of the thighs indicates injury to one or more of the quadriceps muscles. Like other muscles, the quadriceps muscles can become strained with overuse if they are not properly conditioned or stretched. Sometimes an injury can occur if you suddenly accelerate, run hills, or do interval speed work as part of your training.
Quadriceps tendonitis pain is felt in the area just above the knee where the quadriceps muscles and tendons are located. Untreated, this specific tendonitis could escalate to tendinosis, which is the long-term chronic form of tendonitis. It could eventually require knee surgery.
Quadricep strain, also known as a quad pull or thigh strain, is a fairly common running injury, especially for us chubby runners or overweight runners.
Strains can range from a mild ache to a full-blown tear of the muscle which is excruciatingly painful and prevents you from running or walking. This strain typically occurs when one or more of the quadriceps muscles become fatigued or overworked.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Meralgia paresthetica is a condition characterized by tingling, numbness, and burning pain in your outer thigh. The cause of meralgia paresthetica is compression of the nerve that supplies sensation to the skin surface of your thigh.
Tight clothing, obesity or weight gain, and pregnancy are common causes of meralgia paresthetica. However, meralgia paresthetica can also be due to local trauma or a disease, such as diabetes.
In most cases, you can relieve meralgia paresthetica with conservative measures, such as wearing looser clothing. In severe cases, treatment may include medications to relieve discomfort or, rarely, surgery.
First, a little anatomy lesson: The hamstring or “hammy” is made up of three separate muscles located behind the thigh:
- Biceps femoris
The hamstring muscle group crosses two main joints, the knee, and the hip. This means it plays a crucial role in two main running movements: extending at the hips and bending the knee.
The hamstring has three main roles:
- Acting as a braking system by gradually slowing down the front leg as it nears the ground, especially during downhill efforts
- Extending the hip to propel the body forward
- Assisting the calf muscle to help bend the knee
Altogether, this makes the hamstring an essential component of the running stride.
Tendonitis or tendinopathy is characterized as localized pain over the tendon as it meets the pelvis. While running, the pain may worsen running uphill or stepping up the pace. The pain is achy with a “pulling” sensation, which intensifies with running activity and is alleviated by RICE.
A strain will usually cause sudden soreness, pain, and tenderness on the back of your thigh. It may be painful to move your leg, but the strength of the muscle should not be affected.
Other types of hamstring pain:
- Minor – Hamstring tear Grade 1
- Mild – Hamstring tear Grade 2
- Major – Hamstring tear Grade 3