By John Overton
Running is now one of the most popular participant sports in the country, and one which unfortunately causes many injuries, many of which could be prevented by selecting the correct running shoe and using shock absorbing insoles. While performance athletes in training have their own problems, this page deals with the most common injuries, i.e. those encountered by amateur runners and joggers.
Achilles Tendonitis can be a major problem. The achilles tendon is the tendon at the back of the lower leg connecting the heel to the calf muscles. Symptoms are dull or sharp pain, generally near the heel often with irritation of the ankle. The only cure is to stop running for at least a week because if not it will only get worse. It can be treated the same way as any other strained muscle: apply Ibuprofen gel or similar, rest the muscle as much as possible and apply ice packs or kold blue bandages.
Knee Pain, also known as Runner’s Knee. The knee is a complex instrument made up of four bones with cartilage separating them. If the cartilage wears or softens then the knee can become painful and even start to “click” when running. The best treatment is to cut back on running (especially hills), rest, use Ibuprofen gel and ice packs and maintain training with some other exercise such as swimming or cycling. Knee supports can be useful but may only serve to disguise the real problem. If the pain continues, see your doctor.
Shin Pain, also known as Shin Splints. Pain in the shins is all too common and can cover a number of complaints, most of which will appear identical to anyone but a specialist doctor. If the pain is moderate, then shock absorbing insoles can alleviate it, coupled of course with rest and a reduction in training. If it recurs, then it may be worth checking that you do not have an orthopaedic problem which is causing unusual stress on your legs. You can find extensive information on foot and ankle problems here.
Difficulty in Breathing or Shortage of Breath. If difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath is encountered, then listen to your body and stop running. The most common cause of sudden death in the over 40’s is coronary artery disease, and while exercise can help prevent this, overdoing it can certainly bring it on. In serious or persistant cases see a doctor, in less serious cases wind your training regime right back and gradually build it back up again.
Verrucas are another contagious foot condition traditionally associated with small children and swimming pools. They appear as small “stone like” growths on the foot and can be quite uncomfortable when running. Once caught they can be extraordinarily difficult to get rid of. Various treatments are available, and from personal experience we would recommend the “scholl” plasters.
Blisters can be a real inconvenience. They are normally caused by poorly fitting shoes, but can be caused by a ruckled sock or literally anything which causes friction with the foot. The best treatment is to pierce the blister with a sterile (boiled) needls and squeeze the pus out. Once done, treat with antiseptic cream and a hydrocolloid based plaster or dressing.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the foot which can be easily treated, and should be treated quickly as it’s contagious. Normally seen as lesions between the toes it can infest other areas of the feet and is primarily caused by excessive build up of sweat during running, but as it’s contagious it can also be picked up in changing rooms.
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