Avoiding early-season running injuries | SierraSun.com

Avoiding early-season running injuries

Peter Fain
Running on Dirt

It feels good to finally get out there on the trails and only hop over a few patches of snow (just donand#8217;t go any higher than 6,500 feet). The dirt is tacky and someone has probably walked through and kicked a lot of the loose rocks out of the way. So what do you do? You turn up the speed and you run farther. Too bad your body isnand#8217;t ready yet.

The main culprit of early-season injuries is just that: too fast, too far, too soon. I fall into this category every year. I just canand#8217;t seem to help myself. Now you know why Iand#8217;m always limping. The recovery is usually the same but the issues can vary widely.

Here are a few things to look for: knee pain, hip pain, foot pain, shin pain and Achilles pain. These are only a few, but theyand#8217;re the ones that seem bite me every year.

Knee pain can be a number of things, but in this case it is typically patellar tendinitis and#8212; an inflammation of the tendon and tissue around the tendon.

Hip pain has been a couple different things for me. One is IT band syndrome, which for many people starts in the knee area. The IT band stretches from the outer point on your hip and down to your knee. This band becomes tight and will sometimes be accompanied by a clicking sensation. The pain will be prominent running downhill.

The other hip issue I get is hip bursitis. The burs is a closed fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. When it becomes swollen, stiffness and tenderness will be evident in the outer hip.

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Shin pain is very common and most every runner has experienced it at one time or another and#8212; shin splints. Shin splints occur from too much force on the shinbone and connective tissues attaching muscles to it.

Foot pain can cause a number of problems, but the one I am all too familiar with is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is irritation and swelling of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. What this commonly feels like is pain on your heel when walking. Imagine a pea-size pebble stuck in the bottom of your shoe and you canand#8217;t get it out.

If this happens to you, stop running immediately. Save yourself. Donand#8217;t make the dumb mistakes I have and try to run through it. It wonand#8217;t work. You will regret it and your running will suffer.

Those are just a few common overuse injuries. The best thing to do for all the them is R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation). And donand#8217;t be afraid of a little Aleve. Usually a few days of recovery and you should be good to go. You can also try an alternative exercise to ease your way back in to running.

By no means am I an authority on any of these issues. I know them well from personal experience, but your best bet is to see your doctor or physical therapist to get a proper diagnosis.

and#8220;Do as I say, not as I do.and#8221;

and#8212; Peter Fain is a local trail runner who competes regularly in regional trail races and snowshoe runs in the winter. He may be contacted at runondirt@gmail.com.