Runners can train outdoors all year in Florida, but as the miles add up in a marathon training plan, running injuries can happen. Sometimes a few days rest is all the body needs to bounce back, but physical therapy can be the best option for more serious injuries or those that keep coming back.
Here are a few of the common running injuries we see and how we can help treat them here in our office on Anastasia Island:
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
Ever hear fellow runners complain about their IT band? This common injury is felt on the outside of the knee or hip. The iliotibial band is a mass of tissue that runs from pelvis down the outside of the hip to the knee. It helps to steady the knee by sliding behind and in front of the femur as the leg bends, but too much friction can cause this band to thicken. The result is a sensation of tightness or stinging in some cases.
With a physical therapy evaluation, we can determine the severity of your ITBS and recommend a treatment plan. This could include icing the injury in the first few days and ceasing running activity. It could also include proper stretches and knee and hip straightening exercises. If the injury persists longer than 6-8 weeks, cortisone injections may be recommended.
Medial tibial stress syndrome, known by many runners as shin splints, is a painful running injury caused by overuse. Minor muscle tears on the inside of the shin bone are what cause the pain. While many runners are prone to this injury, it doesn’t mean you won’t make the marathon start line. Proper treatment and a more gradual increase of running miles can move many runners past shin splints.
Physical therapy for shin splints can involve specialized stretching, strengthening, and massage techniques. We may also recommend exercises to do at home to strengthen the muscles of the legs and feet in order to prevent this injury in the future.
Foot pain can be traced to plantar fasciitis in some cases, and this can become a very painful injury if left untreated. Inflammation or weakening of the fascia along the bottom of the foot is the culprit, and symptoms commonly include sharp pain, numbness, tingling, and swelling in the heel or bottom of the foot. A tell-tale sign that a runner has developed plantar fasciitis is if pain gets worse while running.
Plantar fasciitis treatment includes stretches and rest from running. Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery time typically ranges from weeks to months—it is critical to follow your physical therapist’s recommendations to ensure proper healing before returning to running.
Hip or Knee Bursitis
Inflammation of the small sacs of synovial fluid, or bursa, can cause intense pain for runners. Runners usually experience bursitis in the hips or knees due to the repetitive motion of running. Redness, swelling, and pain indicate bursitis.
Experiencing bursitis after a sudden increase in activity may be treated with rest and ice. However, recurring bursitis may indicate other issues that need to be treated by a physical therapist, such as range of motion restrictions, tight or inflamed tissues, or other lingering injuries.
Physical therapy can help get you back on track
For runners, injuries can be incredibly frustrating—especially during a marathon training plan when consistency is key. But getting injuries properly diagnosed and treated by a physical therapist is the best way to get past these bumps in the road.
If you’re worried about making it to the start line of your big race, or if you simply want to get back to enjoying your Saturday morning run with friends, stop by our office for a physical therapy session. Our highly experienced team can pinpoint the cause of your issue and get you started with a proper treatment plan.