Common injuries.

Common Injuries and their treatment

As a general principle it is always better to avoid getting injured. Always buy good quality running shoes that provide the appropriate cushioning and stability for your feet. Buying on-line may be cheaper but a visit to a specialist running shop may save you from injuries in the longer term. Additionally, do not run in worn out shoes, you should change them very 400 or so miles, sooner rather than later if running long distances regularly.

Warm up and warm down, 5 or 10 minutes walking or jogging before you start your main run session and afterwards. This helps prepare the body for the hard work it will experience and then get rid of the build-up of lactic acid.

Stretching after warming up will help tight muscles and tendons work flexibility and after a run to prevent muscle cramps and tears. Ten minute of stretching will help prevent injury.

Do have rest days. Llisten to your body and the aches and pains you may experience from delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) particularly after running long distances. A couple of days off will soon help you over it.

Keep hydrated. Remember that you need to replace sweat which cools the body, with fluid after a run or during a long distance run. Carry an isotonic drink which replaces the salts lost through sweat


In the event of an injury, remember RICE, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Where possible immobilise the injury, wrap a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel or use an ice pack to treat the injury for 10-15 minute regularly throughout the day. Use a compression bandage to support the injury and prevent swelling and raise the injury above the rest of your body if sitting or lying down. Above all, particularly with leg and ankle injuries, stay off it!

Here are some common injuries, their symptoms, possible causes and treatments.

Shin Splints

Shin splints is generally the name given to the inflammation of tissue on the inside front of the lower leg and as the name suggests the shin or tibia. Symptoms include soreness, tenderness, aching and throbbing along the shin bone, often being felt at the start of run and then afterwards. If it were a stress fracture the pain would not cease and walking would be painful too. Caused by running too far too soon especially if a beginner or returning from injury, not wearing the right type of running shoes or not renewing them regularly, running on hard surfaces, most of us have experienced some shin soreness over the years

Shin splints should disappear after a couple of weeks but if shin splints area continuing problem you should not try and run through the pain and soreness. Take a complete rest or at least reduce your mileage and frequency of training avoiding hard surfaces. Use an ice packor bag of frozen peas on the affected area for 10-15 minutes regularly through the day.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee covers a multitude of knee problems associated with cartilage and knee joint. It is associated with tears to cartilage between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) behind the patella (kneecap). When the cartilage is torn it can disintegrate totally allowingbone to grate against bone. Symptoms include pain beneath or at the side of the kneecap often accompanied by swelling. Frequently caused by regular running over long distances, many suffer knee problems in the build up to marathons or after.

The only cure is rest which may mean up to a month off. Use ice to alleviate pain and swelling by using an ice pack or frozen peas for 10-15 minutes regularly through the day. If after a long lay -off pain and discomfort is still a problem seeking referral from your GP to a sports injury clinic for a scan is recommended.

Foot Pain

The correct term for this is plantar fasciitis which is inflammation caused by the tearing of the thick band of tissue that runs from the toes to the base of the heel which supports the bottom of the foot. Symptoms include soreness and pain from the heel to the middle of the sole. This injury is often associated with having flat feet or high arches and doing long distances or speed work without having built up to it slowly.

Using an ice pack or bag of frozen peas can for 10-15 minute regularly will help as will strapping the instep/sole to support it before running. However, plantar fasciitis is not easily treated and if the discomfort continues you may need anti-inflammatory tablets/cream. A visit to your physiotherapist may be helpful.


Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

The Iliotibial Band is the connective tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh from the hip to the knee. ITBS is the result of this tissue rubbing against the femur (thigh bone). Symptoms usually present themselves during runs and can include a dull ache on the outside of the thigh or knee and often stops being painful when not actually running. It can be tender to touch and there may be some swelling. Caused by poor gait, pronation caused by‘bandiness’, and running on cambered hard surfaces, runners should not run through ITBS.

Using an ice pack or bag of frozen peas applied to the painful area will alleviate pain along with stretching of the quads and the hamstrings. Sports massage may help too.

Achilles Heel

The Achilles tendon is the large tendon connecting the two major calf muscles to the back of the heel bone. It can become very tight and inflamed causing Achilles Tendinitis. Symptoms include a sharp pain along the back of the tendon close to the heel, a loss of flexibility and sometimes a nodule of scar tissue can be felt. Caused by excessive speed and hill work and over pronation, choosing the right running shoe is essential avoiding those with high heel tabs.

Don’t run if you have an Achilles problem. It may take up to two months to treat. Rest it, use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas for 10-15 minute regularly, massage the area, see your physiotherapist. Stretch your calves and Achilles tendon as you improve and before easy running as you recover.

Ankle Sprains

Torn ligaments caused by going over on the ankle can be very painful. Immediate treatment is Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE). Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas for 10-15 minutes regularly to ease pain and reduce swelling. Use a compression bandage to strap up the ankle and as far as possible stay off it, elevating the afflicted ankle on a cushion. Do not attempt to run off or though a sprained ankle. Resume gentle training when the swelling and pain have gone.


Caused by friction Blisters are the result of shoes and or socks rubbing the skin on the foot (often around the toes and heel) causing a build-up of fluid between the skins layers. They can be very sore particularly if they burst whilst running. Use an antiseptic to wipe the blister and a sterilised needle to prick the blister draining off the fluid. Leave the skin intact unless the blister is torn and it is necessary to trim the flap of skin. Use a propriety blister pack obtained from the chemist. Blisters can be avoided by using moisturising foot creams and good fitting socks and shoes.

Black Toenails

A black toenail is caused by bruising to the toenail which allows blood to build up beneath it. They may throb too. Caused by toes rubbing the inside of the shoe especially for distance runners or by stubbing the toe, ill-fitting shoes can be the root of the problem. Make sure that you have your running shoes fitted properly to allow enough space for toes.


Calf Strains


Pain in the calf, as well as swelling, tenderness and muscle tightness, resulting from sudden overloading of the muscles during speed work, hill running or running on uneven trails. If the strain is severe you will be unable to walk and you will suffer bruising. Treat with ice and anti-inflammatories. Wrap your calf with a 4-inch Ace bandage. It should be tight enough to provide relief but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. Do not run on even on a slight strain as  this may turn into a more severe injury. It may take up to a week or longer depending on the severity of the strain to heal. Stretch your calf five to 10 times a day and run with the calf strapped up with a tubular support bandage. Avoid walking barefoot.



Often described as a  ‘pulled Hamstring’ this usually the result of the Hamstring muscle forcibly stretched beyond its limit, the muscle tissue becoming torn. Depending on its severity it is classified as a first, second or third degree strain.

The immediate treatment of a Hamstring muscle injury consists of the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Use a compression bandage to reduce the bleeding and damage within the Hamstring muscle tissue. Resting may be the common sense approach, but it is one that is often ignored by competitive athletes. This is unwise, since it does not take much to turn a grade one Hamstring strain into a grade two, or a grade two Hamstring strain into a grade three. Do consult a physiotherapist or attend a sports clinic. As a general rule, grade one Hamstring strains should be rested from sporting activity for about 3 weeks and grade two injuries for about 4 to 6 weeks. In the case of a complete rupture, the Hamstring muscle will have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation afterwards will take about 3 months.

Corns and Calluses.

Corns and calluses are areas of hard, thickened skin that develop when the skin is exposed to excessive pressure or friction. They commonly occur on the feet and can cause pain and discomfort when you walk.
Corns are small circles of thick skin that usually develop on the tops and sides of toes or on the sole of the foot. However, they can occur anywhere. Corns are often caused by wearing shoes that fit poorly or certain designs that place excessive pressure on an area of the foot.
Corns often occur on bony feet as there’s a lack of natural cushioning. They can also develop as a symptom of another foot problem, such as:
a bunion – where the joint of the big toe sticks outwards as the big toe begins to point towards the other toes on the same foot
hammer toe – where the toe is bent at the middle joint
Calluses are hard, rough areas of skin that are often yellowish in colour. They can develop on your foot, most often around the heel area or on the skin under the ball of the foot. Calluses develop when the skin rubs against something, such as a bone, a shoe or the ground. They often form over the ball of your foot because this area takes most of your weight when you walk.
Treating corns and calluses
If you have a corn on your foot, you should see a chiropodist/podiatrist, who can advise you about treatment.
Corns on feet will not get better unless the cause of the pressure is removed. If the cause is not removed, the skin could become thicker and more painful over time. The chiropodist may be able to treat corns or badly callused areas using a sharp blade to remove the thickened area of skin. This is painless and should help reduce pain and discomfort.

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