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Running injuries

Running injuries can affect anyone, from experienced runners who push themselves hard, to beginners whose muscles aren't used to running. Below are 5 of the most common running injuries. Find out how to spot the symptoms, what causes the injuries, and what to do if you get one, including when to get medical help. You'll also find tips on how to avoid becoming injured in the first place, such as choosing the right shoes and warming up properly. Being injured can dent your motivation, so we have also included tips on how to get yourself up and running again once you have recovered. Whatever your injury, it's important to listen to your body. Don't run if you're in pain, and only start running again when you have recovered sufficiently.

1. Knee pain
Knee pain, also called runner's knee, can have many causes, such as swelling under the kneecap. During your run, you may develop pain at the front of the knee, around the knee, or behind the kneecap. The pain may be dull, or it could be sharp and severe. To help knee pain at home, apply ice to the knee and stretching. Hold ice (try a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea towel) on the painful area for around 10 minutes a few times a day. Never put ice directly on your skin.
To stretch the area lying on your side with your bad leg on top. Bend your top leg so your foot goes back towards your bottom, then hold it there with your hand and keep both knees touching. Hold the stretch for at least 45 seconds, breathing deeply and feeling the stretch in the thigh. Repeat this around 6 times a day.
If the pain's severe or the knee's swollen, see your GP straight away. If your knee pain isn't severe, stop running and get it checked by a GP or Podiatrist if the pain doesn't go away after a week. They can also recommend stretches or exercises to help you recover.

Can I still run with a painful knee?
Don't run if you have pain in your knee. If you still feel pain after a week's rest, see your GP or Podiatrist How soon you can start running again will depend on the cause of your knee pain and how severe it is. Your GP or Podiatrist can advise you.

2. Achilles pain
The Achilles tendon is the tough, rubbery cord at the back of the ankle that links the muscle to the bone. Regular running can cause wear and tear to the tendon over time. You may have pain and swelling at the back of the ankle or heel. The pain may be minor but continuous, or it could be sudden and sharp. It may be worse first thing in the morning.
To treat Achilles pain at home, we recommend applying ice to the area if you can feel a lump there (never put ice directly on your skin). You can also gently massage the area with your fingers.
You could also try using heel wedges in your shoes. Get advice about this from Podiatrist or running shop. See your GP or a Podiatrist if you have Achilles pain that doesn't disappear after 3 to 4 weeks. If you have a sudden, sharp pain, your Achilles tendon may have torn. See your GP straight away if this is the case. A sharp pain will stop you running altogether. Even if the pain isn't severe, it's a good idea to rest until the pain goes, and get it checked if it doesn't go away.

3. Shin Splints
Shin pain occurs on the front of the leg, below the knee. It's often referred to as shin splints. Runners are often aware of a dull pain in the shin, but carry on running. But this can cause increasing damage to the area, which can lead to a sudden sharp pain that stops you running altogether. Pain can be relieved by applying ice to the area regularly for the first few days (never put ice directly on your skin). See your GP or a Podiatrist if the area is swollen, the pain's severe, or it doesn't improve in 2 to 3 weeks. Shin pain is likely to stop you running altogether. Take a break for 2 to 3 weeks before beginning again slowly.

4. Plantar Fasciitits
Pain or swelling in the heel or bottom of the foot can occur if you suddenly start doing a lot more running, run uphill, or your shoes aren't supportive enough or are worn out. The medical name for heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Heel pain is often sharp and occurs when you put weight on the heel. It can feel like someone's sticking something sharp in your heel, or as if you're walking on sharp stones. We recommend applying ice to the area. The best way to do this is to freeze a small bottle of water, then place it on the floor and roll it back and forth under your foot for about 10 minutes. Never place ice directly on your skin. There are also several stretches you can do to help heel pain. Stop running and see your GP straight away if there's a lot of swelling in the heel or the area under your foot. Otherwise, see your GP after a week to 10 days if the pain doesn't go away. You won't be able to run with heel pain. If you treat the pain early enough, it'll normally go away in 2 to 3 weeks, after which you should be able to start running again. for more information abour heel pain click Here

5. Strains
The most common strains caused by running are in the hamstring muscles (which run down the back of the thigh) or calf muscles. Strains often affect new runners, whose muscles aren't used to running. The pain of a muscle strain is often sudden and feels as if someone has kicked you in the area of your calf or hamstring. Most strains can be treated at home. Stop running immediately and apply ice to the painful area for around 20 minutes a few times a day (don't put ice directly on your skin). Keeping your leg elevated and supported with a pillow will help reduce swelling. You won't be able to run with a muscle strain. The time it takes for a strain to heal and for you to start running again varies from 2 weeks to around 6 months, depending on how severe the muscle strain is.

Tips for preventing injury

Wear the right shoes
It's important to buy the correct running shoes, and it's best to go to a running shop to get fitted. But you don't have to spend a lot of money.
Expensive shoes aren't necessarily better. The most expensive shoes may just be more durable and lightweight, so are suitable for people running long distances. All running shoe brands make cheaper versions that are suitable for beginners.

Warm up and cool down
It's essential to warm up properly before you start running. Five to 10 minutes of brisk walking or gentle jogging before you start will warm your muscles up and help prevent injury. To cool down, carry on running at an easier pace or walk for 5 to 10 minutes. This will help your body recover after your run.
Don't be tempted to increase the intensity or distance of your running too quickly. Do a similar run at least 3 or 4 times before you increase your pace or distance. The Couch to 10k is perfect as it builds up the distance gradually. The plan is suitable for beginners and will get you running 3 times a week, building up to 5km in 9 weeks.
Being injured can be very frustrating. If you're new to running, you might be tempted to give up at the first sign of injury. Having a specific goal, such as a 5km race or charity run, will help you stay motivated through injury. "If you have something to work towards, you'll be much more likely to get back into running once you've recovered." Running with a partner is also a great way to stay motivated. If they carry on running while you're injured, you'll want to get back out there once you're better as you won't want to let them down.

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