There are many challenges with cross country running, including changes in inclines and terrain as well as uneven surfaces. A runner must be able to adjust their way of running in order to deal with these variables. When a runner fails to train year-round, it can result in over-training at the beginning of the season. This often leads to early-season injuries from the constant increase in duration and intensity of workouts. It's important to understand the most common of these early-season injuries and how to prevent and treat them.
1. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
This injury consists of pain at the front of your knee. It will usually be worse at the beginning or end of your run as well as when sitting or climbing stairs. It is typically caused by the cartilage beneath your kneecap softening or wearing down, which is often due to overuse or excess weight. To treat this type of injury, it is crucial that you undergo strength straining for your knee muscles and quadriceps while also stretching all the muscles in the leg. This is to strengthen the muscles, decrease tightness of the muscles and increase flexibility.
2. Plantar Fasciitis
This type of injury consists of pain in the bottom of the foot and in the heel area. The pain is at its prime when you get up from a seated position or out of bed. The pain may subside as you walk but will typically come back as the day goes on. It occurs due to the fascia tissue becoming inflamed and the calf muscle tightening from excessive running. The best way to prevent this injury from occurring is ensuring that you have properly fitted footwear and that you undergo sufficient stretching of the lower leg muscles.
3. Shin Splints
With this injury, you are going to suffer significant pain in the shin area of your leg. When it is not treated quickly and properly, it can lead to a stress fracture of the hip and tibia. As a general rule, this injury occurs when you undergo a sudden increase in intensity and volume of training. Therefore, it is crucial that you work on the stretching and strengthening of your entire lower extremity while also gradually – instead of suddenly – increasing your training capacity.
4. Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome
This type of injury consists of swelling and pain around the knee and sometimes the hip. The pain will often worsen when bending the knee or running. Apart from overuse, this injury can occur due to the tightening of muscles along the leg and weak muscles in the hips. The ultimate key to treating this injury and even preventing it is strength training and adequate stretching while also correcting running technique and improving your balance.
With the proper training program, you can ensure that your body is able to stand up to the challenges that cross country running brings with it. However, when you've become injured, it is crucial that you speak to a specialist to determine the type and extent of the injury and how to treat it as quickly and effectively as possible so that you can get back to your preparations. For more information, contact Nick Roselli Occupational Therapy or a similar location.