With the Chicago Marathon just two days away, the approximately 45,000 participants are as likely ready for the 26-mile run as they’ll ever be. But even the most prepared runner risks injury. Chicago Health spoke with Lowell Weil, Sr., MD, of the Weil Foot and Ankle Institute about the top five injuries that runners—marathoners or otherwise—should be aware of.
Shin splints refer to pains along the tibia bone and are mostly common among runners when their training patterns have changed such as preparing for a marathon. They are a fairly minor injury and can be remedied by rest and a good ice pack.
Also known as jogger’s heel, plantar fasciitis most often manifests as heel pain and occurs when runners have intensified their exercise regimen or remained on their feet for long periods of time. Runners who suffer from plantar fasciitis should focus on stretching and strengthening their calf muscles as well as applying heat to the heel.
Achilles tendinitis is characterized by pain in the ankle and is most prevalent in endurance runners. It can result from a variety of factors, including improper footwear and overuse, and is best treated by using a cold compress or by simply using a heel insert in running shoes.
A stress fracture is any crack in a weight-bearing bone, so it’s no surprise that they’re common among runners. Beginning a training routine too quickly can cause stress fractures because it takes longer to build strength in the bones than in the muscles or tendons. Depending on the severity of the sprain, runners could face weeks off their feet and even have to use crutches.
Also known as bleeding under the nail, subungual hematoma in a runner’s toe can occur when a heavy object is dropped on one’s foot or even by stubbing a toe on the ground. Weil says that runners will know this is the problem if the toe becomes dark and discolored, and he warns not to ignore this pain. “The only way to cure it is to have it drained by a medical professional,” he advises.
Published on October 10, 2014
Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.