Runners: Every Step They Take - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 21, 2012

Runners: Every Step They Take

For a lot of people, November is marathon season. The air is cooler, the humidity isn’t so draining, and running 26.2 miles isn’t quite as daunting. Don’t get us wrong – it’s still daunting; just not quite as much as if it’s 90 degrees and humid.

But the truth is that running is hard on your body.

In fact, in a lot of ways it’s a completely horrible idea. Running beats up your body as it makes you (theoretically) stronger. Devoted runners almost always have aches and pains and black toe nails.

And yet there’s almost no way they’ll ever stop because they’re addicted. And running is a good addiction – as long as you take care of yourself and take precautions against injury. That begins with knowledge, so here are some of the more common problems a runner faces:

  • Plantar fasciitis – Ouch! The plantar fascia is a ligament that runs along the base of the foot. Plantar fasciitis is a swelling of the ligament, and a lot of long-distance runners know the pain of this injury. Plantar fasciitis can be associated with heel spurs, but doesn’t necessarily cause them.
  • Shin splints– This is a term that describes a set of symptoms in the lower leg, but is not an actual diagnosis. Shin splints can be caused by problems with the muscles, bones, or the attachment of the muscles to the bone.
    • Knee tendonitis – This is more common for athletes involved in jumping activity, but can still affect runners. Treatment usually involves stretching and strengthening the muscle that connects the knee cap to the shin bone.
    • Ankle sprains – Stepping off curbs awkwardly, unexpectedly finding a pothole – these are ways that runners roll ankles. Some ankle sprains are worse than others, but taking a break from running is a must.
    • Hip issues – Runners very often have weak hips; the straight-ahead nature of the exercise strengthens other muscles but often neglects the hips, and the imbalance can cause issues such as bursitis, “snapping hip,” and iliotibial band syndrome.

If you have any of these issues, talk to your doctor right away. Runners are a generally stubborn group and want to run through the pain, but that typically only leads to more pain.

And here are some ways to safeguard against these typical runner injuries:

  • Good running shoes. It’s important your running shoes fit well. Don’t just buy shoes because they look cool. Get properly fitted if you’re going to be putting in serious mileage.
  • The right warm up. Especially as we head in to cold weather, it’s important to warm up your muscles and joints, and elevate your heart rate before you go plunging out into freezing weather.  If not, you’re risking injury. And cool down when you’re finished.
  • S –T – R – E – T – C –H. Stretching properly is important. You should perform a series of gentle stretches for your hamstrings, quads, calves and Achilles tendons, before, during or after you run.
  • Crosstraining. Pounding the pavement all the time isn’t a good idea for your joints and muscles. You need to mix it up, maybe with a spin class, the elliptical, or some yoga or Pilates to stretch things out. Most runners report better running performance after embracing a crosstraining regimen.

Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive musculoskeletal care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to spine and hand services, sports medicine, and joint replacement surgery, the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership will determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit 


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