Self-Diagnosis for the Die-Hard Runner!

If you are a runner, chances are you have experienced one or more of these maladies. The secret to a successful and long running career revolves around being able to diagnose what’s wrong and either treat it (or prevent it in the first place).  Four of the more common lower-leg injuries include: calf strains, shin splints, stress fractures, and achilles tendinitis.  There are things you can do to prevent any of these from happening, but if you do succumb, then diagnose and treat it early.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to know the difference between simple aches and pains and an actual injury.  When in doubt, always consult a physician.

Do you have discomfort in your calf (twinge, tightness, excruciating pain)?  Chances are you have a calf strain. To treat it…

  • Don’t run.
  • Ice for 15 minutes, five times a day.
  • Wear a compression sleeve for the first 48-hours.
  • Elevate your leg above your hip for the first 48-hours.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications can help.
  • See a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.

To prevent it . . .

  • Foam roll/stretch your calves daily.
  • Strength train.

Do you have tenderness or achiness along your shin?  This could be one of two things: shin splints or a stress fracture.

To treat shin splints . . .

  • Reduce your mileage and start cross-training.
  • Apply ice for 15 minutes, five times a day.
  • Consider arch supports if you tend to overpronate.
  • If the pain doesn’t subside with rest, stop running and see a doctor (to rule out a stress fracture).

To prevent them . . .

  • Always increase your mileage gradually.
  • Strength train (target your glutes and core).
  • Shorten your stride.
  • Be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.

To treat a stress fracture . . .

  • Get medical care.
  • Avoid activities that put weight on your leg.
  • Get enough calcium and vitamin D.

To prevent them . . .

  • Increase your mileage gradually.
  • Have the right running shoes (overpronation can cause this issue).
  • Strength train (focus on the glutes and core).
  • Shorten your stride and increase your cadence (puts less stress on your shins)

Do you have mild to severe soreness along the Achilles Tendon?  Chances are you have Achilles Tendinitis.

To treat it . . .

  • Don’t run.  Swim, bike, or pool-run.
  • Ice for 15 minutes, five times a day.
  • Foam roll and strength train your calves.
  • See a doctor if there’s a lump in the tendon (sign of a tear).

To prevent it . . .

  • Do plyometric exercises.
  • Foam roll calves daily.
  • Increase mileage gradually.

Go forth and run well!

Source: Runner’s World magazine, August 2015.

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