Muscle soreness and running injuries: How do I avoid and treat them?

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The body needs time to adapt to new sports and new training regimes. Even if you are eager to start – don’t overload yourself. Most common running injuries occur in beginners and are caused by too much exertion, bad running shoes and hard surfaces. From sore muscles to shin splints – everyone is susceptible. Being properly prepared and knowing how to recognize problems before they get serious will help you to avoid injuries and having to take a break from training. Find out what you need to know to train smart and enjoy your Running progress without injury.

Treating sore muscles

Sore muscles are common after running, especially for beginners. They often occur when you have pushed your limits during your training. But they also indicate that your body needs to regenerate to avoid injury. It is important to rest your muscles properly if this is the case. Good sleep, proper hydration and a balanced protein-based diet will help speed up the recovery process and even just a walk will activate the fatigued muscles. Stretching and muscle relaxation exercises such as fascial stretching are also very effective as active rest. These methods will increase flexibility and improve performance.

Once your body gets used to the training, you will experience less muscle soreness afterwards. But if you begin to experience a different kind of pain that is making running difficult or uncomfortable, it is the body’s way of telling you to slow down your training. If the pain continues without an obvious cause and you believe you may have picked up an injury – especially if you are new to running – then you should see a doctor as soon as possible, just in case.

Common running injuries and what to do

Blisters

Everyone gets blisters at some point and there are a number of different causes. Often it is a sign that your shoes are too small or your socks too short. Or there may be an odd seam that is causing the problem, or a new orthopedic insole. If this is the case, talk to the manufacturer so that they can adjust the insoles and fix the problem quickly and easily. Lastly, running in very wet conditions can also cause problems, as wet feet are prone to getting blisters.

Don’t burst blisters, as this increases the risk of infection or inflammation. Bursting a blister creates an open wound, even if there is no blood. If you cannot wait until your blister has healed to go running, then prepare the affected area with disinfectant and then use tape and/or a plaster to keep it clean.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are painful and can last for a long time. Unfortunately, they are also very common, especially in new runners. As the name suggests, you will recognize shin splints by a pain down the shin(s) when running, stretching or even just applying pressure to the area. The cause is usually overexertion or badly cushioned running shoes. Other reasons could be new shoes, new insoles, or old, worn-out shoes. Strong overpronation (when your foot buckles inwards when it hits the ground) can also lead to shin splints. Hard ground and a forefoot running style in high volumes can also encourage shin splints.

When shins begin to hurt, try to relieve the pain quickly. Cool them using ice: Fill a yoghurt cup with water and place a spoon in it. Put it in the freezer and whenever you need to, take it from from the cup and rub it gently over any inflamed areas. Massaging your calves with foam roller will also help. Take a break from running until the pain subsides. If it doesn’t, consult a doctor, otherwise the injury may become worse. Once you can begin training again, start slowly, look for softer ground and check that your shoes are properly cushioned.

Pain in the Achilles Tendon

Pain in the Achilles tendon is usually also due to overexertion. Make sure that your calf muscles are relaxed and not tensed and hard, especially before running. Often factors affecting the soles of your feet, such as overpronation, can cause the problem. If the pain persists, consult a doctor or physiotherapist. If your Achilles tendon appears to be bigger on one leg compared to the other, then see a doctor immediately. In the case of mild pain in the Achilles tendon after running, the area should be cooled straightaway with ice.

To avoid Achilles tendon pain in the winter, make sure there aren’t any gaps between your trousers and your socks. If your ankles and Achilles tendons are exposed in cold conditions, you are more likely to suffer from pain in that area.

Knee Pain

Strong overpronation in combination with hard ground, bad running shoes, and a new, heavy training plan can lead to stress on the inner knee joint. The possible resulting injuries range from normal, such as light swelling, to serious, for example a bone marrow edema, if you carry on training through the pain. Overexertion (especially in beginners) can also be a cause. Stopping abruptly when landing, or after intervals, can place a massive strain on your patellar tendons. If they start to swell, take a break and see a doctor. Uphill running and running up stairs should be avoided in the case of a knee injury. If you experience persistent knee pain, you should book an appointment with a doctor, who will be able to give an exact diagnosis.

When it comes to injuries, always aim to prevent instead of treat. This will save you the frustration of having to take a few weeks off from training to recover. Having the correct running shoes from the very beginning is crucial for your own health. And don’t choose too many training days in your Running Coach if you are not used to the intensity. If you do have problems, shoes adapted to your foot shape and general orthopedic condition, as well as insoles, softer ground, and a lighter training plan can prevent re-injury when you restart training after taking a break. Once the first signs of pain occur, tackle the problem and don’t train through it.