You’re ready to finally hit that personal best time in the 5K race, put in all your training, and are feeling on top of your game. Nothing can possibly go wrong now! Until, you go out for a quick shakeout run the day before your 5K and you suddenly feel a weird tingle in your hamstring. The next day, you wake up and you’ve got yourself a full on injury.
For those of us who commonly work out or even just love getting out on the slopes or on a trail occasionally, these pesky injuries that sideline us are incredibly frustrating. We just want to get back to what we love doing, or back to the race we’ve been training for. The real truth of it is that injuries are often preventable, we just aren’t willing to put in the extra work to prevent them. We skip stretching after a run and say we’ll do it next time, or refuse to listen to our sports physiotherapist’s advice.
But all of these little things we skip can turn into a little injury, and little injuries can explode into massive ones. So let’s explore some of the main injuries that we’ve all probably experienced at one point, and then dig into how to prevent them.
Many people have no idea they have plantar fasciitis until they get up out of bed one morning and yelp in pain as they take a step. This can often feel like you’ll snap your foot in half if you put your full weight on it! It can be caused from multiple things, but typically it is simply repetitive strain, and often happens for those of us who have old or badly fitting shoes.
If you know you’re prone to plantar fasciitis, or feel it coming on, try a foot strap like one of these to keep your foot from relaxing down at night. This will keep your foot muscles stretched, and can help with the morning pain. Besides this, having good fitted shoes is important, and stretching out your foot or rolling your foot on a small golf ball can help as well.
Often referred to as the new exerciser injury, shin splints can really happen to anyone. The radiating calf pain can be terrible, and can often stop people from exercising for quite some time. It’s especially frustrating for the new exerciser, as you’ve just started and feel like you can’t continue.
As you’ll see in a lot of these injuries, the best prevention is to not ramp up your exercise too quickly. Other than this, there isn’t a lot of prevention for shin splints, unfortunately. If you’re feeling any pain after exercise, try icing the area right after exercise, and trying to stretch the area as much as possible. Here are some calf exercises to try out.
If you’ve had hip pain or a hip injury before, you know how terrible it can be. What seems like such an odd place to be an injury turns out to be a much bigger issue than you realise, and one that can take ages to heal. Not only do the hip and glute muscles often sideline you from your favourite sport for a long while, but they can also cause other issues, like IT band syndrome, which we’ll go into below.
Stretch and strengthen. It’s extremely important you pay attention to your entire core area when doing any type of exercise or sport, as we are all typically quite weak in this area. A strong core will help prevent a lot of injuries, but specifically help you to avoid a painful and long lasting hip injury.
If you’re a runner, you’re cringing right now at the sound of IT Band Syndrome. This is a fairly common running injury that a lot of us experience at some point in our running careers. The IT band runs from your hip to the outside of your knee. Many people will experience tightness along the side of their upper leg, or knee pain on the outside of their knee.
Strengthen, strengthen, strengthen. Your hips and glutes are often the cause for IT band syndrome, and usually because they’re weak from your office job or lack of attention. Your hips and glutes are what stabilise you when you take a step running, so when they’re weak, your IT band has to overcompensate and gets irritated. Get to work at strengthening them with some of these exercises, and roll out your IT band with a foam roller often to relieve some of the pain. You’ll also want to work on strengthening the other parts of your body that stabilise you, like the muscles around your knee. For example, try knee exercises for skiing to avoid injuries on the slopes.
Although it’s called runner’s knee, this affliction can be a result of really any kind of sport. Ironically, runners often complain of runner’s knee pain, but are actually experiencing IT band syndrome. Depending on what part of your knee you feel the pain, it could be a result of multiple things. In other sports, runner’s knee can be a result of increasing activity too quickly, having bad form, or poor fitting shoes.
Always make sure to gradually increase your activity. If you’re just getting into running, for example, don’t just go out and run 10k. Start with a run/walk program like this one and gradually increase each week. Also make sure to take a closer look at your form, regardless of what exercise or sport you’re doing. Too much high impact while having terrible form on top of it will ruin your knees quite quickly, so please make sure to pay attention to form.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of injuries, we hope you’ve found a few main takeaways to prevent most injuries: Strengthen weak areas, ramp up exercise slowly, and stretch often. But most importantly, always listen to your body, and give it the proper rest and rehab it needs!