Common Injuries

Injuries occur. It's a reality runners have to contend with at times. 

Below is information about common running-related injuries and exercises that will help you recover. These exercises and the videos on the strengthening page are also great injury prevention exercises too!

 

The first, and in our opinion, the most important thing you should do if you suspect an injury is to talk with someone on the Coaching staff. We cannot coach you to your best if we are unaware you are experiencing pain. 

 

General injury guidelines: 

 

  • Rest! If pain is not going away after two or three workouts, then it may not just be muscle soreness. Taking a day or two off could be exactly what your body needs, so consider taking time off to see if your pain subsides or needs further attention.

  • Take your recovery seriously by eating healthy and sleeping well. The way the body gets fitter and stronger is more during recovery than during training. Eat a healthy mix of fruits, veggies, and proteins, and try to get at least 7 - 8 hours of sleep every night. For more information about nutrition, see this page

Injury resources directly from the Wilcox Trainer: 


 

IT Band Syndrome

 

What is an IT band?

 

The IT band, or Iliotibial band is a band of thick connective tissue that runs from the outside of your hip down to the outside of your knee. The IT band helps stabilize the knee joint while running or walking. 

 

What does the injury feel like?

 

This injury usually presents as a sharp pain on the outside of the knee and higher than the knee cap. The sharp pain usually occurs at the time of heel strike and can radiate into the thigh or calf. At times, the pain might go away after a warm-up period; however, it is important to pay attention to the pain as the injury doesn’t usually improve without rest and rehab. 

 

How does the Syndrome develop?

 

This injury is usually caused by overuse or trying to ramp up in mileage or intensity too quickly. Additionally, the underlying cause is generally due to having weak hip abductor muscles, which include the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae (TFL). Essentially, the contraction of these muscles will cause the leg to decelerate and thus creates additional tension on the IT band and can lead to inflammation and pain. 

 

How to recover? 

 

We recommend that runners take a few days off from running. If the pain subsides, then you can slowly increase your running and get back up to your normal training load. Additionally, we recommend you start to incorporate the prevent exercises listed below into your weekly exercise routine. 

 

If the pain does not subside, we recommend taking additional time off and potentially consulting a medical professional. 

 

Talk with the Coach staff about how to approach your return to running. 

 

How to prevent it?

 

  1. Be patient when ramping up your running mileage or intensity. Doing too much too soon will not give your muscles and tendons a chance to adapt and can lead to injury. 

  2. Incorporate exercises that will strengthen your hips and glutes. 

 

Try these exercises:

 

 

Sample Week: 

 

Monday: 

 

3 X 10 Glute Bridge with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 10 Clamshells with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 30 seconds Side Planks with 30 seconds rest in between

 

Wednesday: 

 

3 X 10 Single Leg Glute Bridge with one leg tucked in (Right and Left Sides) with 30 seconds rest after completing both R and L sides

 

3 X 15m Lateral Band Walk on Right and Left Sides with 30 seconds rest after completing both R and L sides

 

Contact the Coaching Staff if you have any questions about these exercises or how to incorporate these into your weekly exercise routine.

 

Runners Knee

 

What is Runner’s Knee?

 

Runner’s Knee, or “Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome” is a wide range of injuries to the patellofemoral joint or the soft tissues adjacent to the joint. 

 

What does the injury feel like?

 

Runner’s knee usually means that you have pain behind or around the top of the kneecap (i.e., patella). The pain is generally a dull ache when running or resisting a leg extension. There may also be a pain if you press down on your kneecap. Your knee may also make a grinding or popping sound when it is being bent or straightened.

 

How does the Syndrome develop?

 

This injury has many causes including overuse from running, misalignment of the knee/kneecap, weak hip and glute muscles (mainly the gluteus medius), weak or tight quads (mainly the vastus medialis), and muscle tightness in the hamstrings and calf. It is also important to keep your IT band strong and healthy as well, as tightness or injury to the IT band can also trigger symptoms of Runner's Knee.

 

How to recover? 

 

We recommend that runners initially take a week off from running. If the pain subsides, then you can slowly increase your running and get back up to your normal training load. Additionally, we recommend you start to incorporate the prevent exercises listed below into your weekly exercise routine. 

 

If the pain does not subside, we recommend taking additional time off (recovery can be up to 6 weeks) and potentially consulting a medical professional. If your knee continues to have pain, then some of the below exercises can be incorporated into your routine but not all. These include Clamshells, lateral band walk with a resistance band,

 

Talk with the Coach staff about how to approach your return to running. 

 

How to prevent it?

 

  1. Be patient when ramping up your running mileage or intensity. Doing too much too soon will not give your muscles and tendons a chance to adapt and can lead to injury. 

  2. Incorporate exercises that will strengthen your hips, glutes, quads, and regularly perform light stretching and rolling to all of your major muscles of your lower body. 

 

Try these exercises:

 

 

Sample Week: 

 

Monday: 

 

3 X 10 Glute Bridge while holding a ball with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 10 Clamshells with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 10 Squats with 30 seconds rest in between

 

Wednesday: 

 

3 X 30 seconds Side Planks with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 10 External Rotation leg lifts with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 15m Lateral Band Walk on Right and Left Sides with 30 seconds rest after completing both R and L sides

 

Contact the Coaching Staff if you have any questions about these exercises or how to incorporate these into your weekly exercise routine.

 

Ankle Sprains

 

What is an Ankle Sprain?

 

It is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle in a way that causes injury because it stretches or tears the ligaments holding your ankle bones together. There are two different kinds of ankle sprains - eversion and inversion. Eversion occurs when the ankle rolls outwards and Inversion occurs when you twist your foot upward and the ankle rolls inward. Sprains can occur in different parts of your ankle - lateral, medical, and high. 

 

  • Lateral ankle sprains injure the ligaments that prevent your foot from rolling inward

  • Medial ankle sprains damage to the set of ligaments that keep your foot from rolling outward

  • High ankle sprains injure the ligaments that hold your two leg bones (“tib” / “fib”)  together on top of the ankle


 

What does the injury feel like?

 

The symptoms and location of a sprain can vary greatly, depending on the extent of the injury and what ligaments are damaged. Bruising, pain, and swelling usually occur after a sprain. There can be restricted range of motion and ankle instability at the time of injury and after. Proper recovery of an ankle sprain is critical to ensure a range of motion and ankle stability is restored. Left unresolved, the ankle and other areas of the body may impede your body's ability to walk and run efficiently leading to other injuries to the foot, ankle, or further up the chain. 

 

How does a sprain occur?

 

Improper or ill-fitting running shoes, twisting or turning the ankle in an award and forceful way.

 

How to recover? 

 

We recommend taking at least two weeks off from running for a mild ankle sprain. A mild sprain would be considered a bit of swelling and pain. 

 

When the swelling and pain have subsided, then you can consider going out for a walk (no longer than 15 - 20 minutes). Keep in mind your ankle’s range of motion, pain, and swelling post-walk. If it increases, then consider taking more time off. If walking doesn’t affect pain or swelling, then consider performing a light range of motion movements like gas pedals (flexing your foot toward your shin and pointing your toe) and ankle circles (both directions or try to spell the ABCs with your foot) 2 - 3 times per day for about a minute or two in duration. Be sure to move within your tolerance - don’t over-extend your range of motion.

 

Also, consider using “RICE” during self-care: 

 

  • Rest (avoid activities causing pain, swelling, or discomfort)

  • Ice (using an ice pack or ice bath immediately after the sprain for about 15 - 20 minutes and then again every 2 - 3 hours thereafter (when you are awake)

  • Compression (using an ankle compression sleeve or elastic bandage to reduce or stop the swelling. Tips: do not wrap too tightly, to avoid any circulatory issues; begin to wrap the injury at the end farthest from your heart)

  • Elevate (elevate your ankle above the level of your heart while you are on the couch or during sleep to reduce swelling further)

 

Once any pain and swelling subside, consider slowly incorporating the below exercises into your weekly running routine. Doing this will help you recover, restore mobility, and minimize the risk of getting another ankle sprain. Talk with the Coaching staff about how to incorporate these exercises into your routine and about how to approach your return to running.

 

For more severe ankle sprains, more time may be required and we strongly recommend speaking with a healthcare professional that can appropriately diagnose and prescribe treatment and rehab of a sprain. 

 

If you have a significant ankle sprain, we are here to support you during your recovery; however, we encourage you to follow the advice from your healthcare provider. Once you are ready to return to running and/or perform strength exercises, talk with the Coaching staff so that we can help you with your exercises and how to approach your return to running.

 

How to prevent it?

 

If you are wearing proper shoes, it is very difficult to prevent an ankle sprain. Sometimes, they just happen due to the terrain you are running on. However, here are some tips to help you minimize or decrease the risk of an ankle sprain (or repeated sprains): 

 

  • Be sure to wear proper fitting shoes and replace your shoes after about 400 - 500 miles

  • Don’t ramp up your mileage or intensity of your running too quickly. Doing this can cause a plethora of issues, and one is a higher likelihood of an ankle sprain. 

  • Keep your ankle, calf, hips, and glute muscles strong by performing the below exercises. 

 

Try these exercises:

 

After an injury: 

 

  • Range of Motion exercises, 2 - 3 times per day for 1 -2 minutes - gas pedals, ankle circles 

  • Balance exercises:

    • Standing on one leg for 30 - 60 seconds. Once you can do this comfortably: 

    • Standing on one leg, slight rock forward for 30 - 60 seconds

    • Standing on one leg, slight rotation towards the midline of your body for 30 - 60 seconds

    • Standing on one leg, slight rotation away from the midline of your body for 30 - 60 seconds.

      • Key points: 

        • Perform exercises on your injured and non-injured leg

        • If you can do this for 30 seconds, that’s okay - start with doing what you can or breaking the movement up into multiple parts (e.g., 2 sets of 15 seconds with a minute recovery)

 

Work to your tolerance level - if something feels very challenging or causes pain, then stop and try again after a day of rest.

 

Prevention or fully recovered: 

 

 

Sample Week: 

 

Monday: 

 

Y-balance in multiple different directions - 30 - 60 seconds, depending on level of fatigue; as you get strong do 2 - 3 sets.

 

3 X 10 - Lateral Lunge (on both sides), with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 5 - 10 Full Range Calf Raises, with 30 seconds rest in between

 

3 X 30 - 60 seconds -  Glute Bridge while holding a ball


 

Wednesday: 

 

3 X Single Leg Balance - 15 - 60 seconds

 

3 X 10 Lateral Bounds - both directions

3 X 10 Clam Shells with/without a resistance band


 

Contact the Coaching Staff if you have any questions about these exercises or how to incorporate these into your weekly exercise routine.

Disclaimer:
Please note that this information does not constitute medical advice and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. This page is dedicated to Wilcox Cross Country and Track athletes for educational purposes, only. To get a diagnosis or receive medical treatment, please be sure to consult with a medical professional. Furthermore, do not disregard medical professional advice or delay care because of the information we have provided on this website. It is our goal, as Wilcox Coaches, to keep you healthy and safe, and the tools outlined on this page may help you stave off injury but will never replace medical care.