The All-In-One Guide To Managing The Health Risks Of Running


Cambridge Dictionary defines running as an activity going somewhere quickly on foot, as a sport or for pleasure. Running may be an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but unlike any powerful medicine, you’ve got to get the dose right.

Runners have 37–56 percent possibility of running-related injuries on an average.Overuse injuries, cardiovascular deterioration, sore muscles,cardiac arrests, osteoarthritis and joint pain, are all part and parcel of the game, especially if you do it regularly for long distances.

“Your body is designed to deal with oxidative stress that comes from exercise for the first hour, “But prolonged intense exercise causes excessive oxidative stress, which basically burns through the antioxidants in your system and predisposes you to problems,” Cardiologist James O’Keefe, MD, Director of Preventative Cardiology at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, and author of the Heart editorial tells

Types of Running Workouts

Base run. These short to moderate length runs will form the bulk of your weekly training mileage. You may do the run at your natural pace, and can make significant improvements in your aerobic capacity and endurance.

Progression run. You begin at your natural pace and end at a faster pace. Progression run is more challenging and requires more recovery time.

Long run. When you’re running for a long distance, your main aim is to increase the length of what you’ll be comfortable doing on your base runs.For the long-distance running, you can increase your pace or mix at some intervals.

Fartlek. These runs are less structured, and the best part is you can play with speed without any stress. Fartlek mixes in few intervals of different distance and duration.

Intervals. Intervals contain short or long bursts of intense effort. These running workouts get separated by equal or slightly longer segments, of slower running, jogging or walking.

Temp runs. You must perform them at the fastest pace that you can sustain for a period.These workouts help you to increase and support speed. They are also called as threshold runs.

Hill repeats. These workouts are short segments of uphill running that you’ll repeat to increase your aerobic power, pain tolerance, high-intensity fatigue resistance, and strength.

Recovery run. These sequences are also known as easy runs, and you can do them at a relatively comfortable pace. The best time to do recovery runs is after a hard workout such as the interval or tempo runs.

Common Running Injuries

Running injuries occur when you push yourself too hard. The movement of your body also plays a role. Here’s a list of the common running injuries:

  • Runner’s Knee
  • Stress Fracture
  • Shin Splint
  • Achilles Tendinitis
  • Muscle Pull
  • Ankle Sprain
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  • Blisters
  • Temperature-Related Injuries

Runners Knee. The stress of your running irritates your kneecap that rests on your thigh bone. You may feel a sudden or sharp pain or a dull and chronic pain. The pain may disappear while you’re running and reappears at other times. The primary cause of runner’s knee is poorly coordinated quadriceps and tight hamstrings.

Stress Fracture. It is a small crack in your bone or severe bruising within your bone. Stress fracture typically affects you in the shin and feet. A stress fracture occurs if you work too hard before your body gets adjusted to the new activity.

Refraining from high impact action for an adequate period helps you to recover from a stress fracture. If you resort to running too quickly, it will delay the healing process, and increases the risk for complete fracture.

Shin Splint. It is the catch-all term for the pain that appears in the front or inside of your lower leg along with your shin bone. Shin splint is typical for athletes, runners, dancers and tennis players.

It occurs if you change your workout, or increase the number of your runs too quickly. If you have flat feet,then you’re more likely to develop shin splint. Rest, stretching exercises and slow return to your running activities help heal this condition.

Achilles Tendinitis. It is due to an overuse injury of Achilles tendon. It is the band of tissue that connects your lower calf muscles at the back of your lower leg to your heel bone. Achilles Tendinitis occurs if you suddenly increase the intensity or duration of your runs. Proper rest, calf stretches and icing the area are the treatment options.

Muscle Pull. It’s a small tear in your muscle also called the muscle strain. It’s mainly due to over stretching of the muscle. When you pull a muscle, you may feel a popping sensation when the muscle tears. Rest, Ice, compression, and elevation are your treatment options. Hamstrings,quadriceps, groin, and calf, are the most commonly affected muscles.

Ankle Sprain. If your ligaments of your ankle get torn, it leads to an ankle injury. It usually occurs on the lateral or outside part of your ankle. An ankle sprain occurs when your foot twists or rolls inward. Your ankle injury may get better with proper rest, compression, ice and elevate your feet.

Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation at the bottom of your feet. You may experience a sharp, tight, painful sensation at the base of your heel that can be annoying to excruciating.

Overuse, over training or improper footwear can lead to pain in your heels. The root of plantar fasciitis is the result of tight and weakened muscles in your foot. If your feet are weak, they can’t take on excessive load or handle the training that you’re trying to do.

Treatments: Avoid going bare feet, stretch and strengthen your calves, roll your feet around on a golf ball and ice the affected area. These steps will provide much-needed relief quickly.

IT band syndrome. The iliotibial band is a tendon which connects your knee to your hip.When your tendon becomes inflamed, it results in IT band syndrome.When you get this condition,you’ll feel that somebody has stabbed you in the side of your knee when you run, especially when you’re going downhill. It can cripple you if you delay addressing this condition.

Running downhill and on the same side of the road are the common culprits.These activities put a lot of stress on the side of your knee and cause friction between the IT band and your femur.

Overtime your IT band may tighten and starts to swell which results in pain. Then the pain intensifies to the level of preventing you from running.

Avoid aggressive downhill running, and switch sides while running on the road.  Treatment options include cutting back on exercise, applying heat, stretching before exercise and icing the area after activity.

Blisters. This condition causes fluid-filled sacks on the surface of your skin. You tend to get these blisters because of the friction between your shoes, socks, and skin.

To help prevent blisters wear socks with double layer, apply petroleum jelly on areas prone to blisters and start using new shoes gradually.

Temperature-Related Injuries. Sunburn, frostbite, heat exhaustion and hypothermia are the temperature-related injuries. You can prevent them by staying hydrated, wearing suitable clothing and using sunscreen.

Oxidative Stress. Forget sore muscles and crafting; excessive running can cause even dangerous wear and tear on your body. When you have a strenuous workout, your body works hard to burn fat and sugar for fuel. This action creates the “smoke.”

The “smoke” which rises through your system is free radicals that can bind with cholesterol. It creates plaque buildup in your arteries and damages your cells in a process called as oxidative stress. So ensure moderation in your running workout.

Management of Health Risks of Running

Warm up and cool down. A good warm-up dilates your blood vessels and enhances oxygen flow to your muscles. It raises your muscles’ temperature for optimum efficiency and flexibility. It slowly increases your heart rate and reduces stress on your heart when you begin to run.

Just as important, the cool down keeps the blood flowing throughout your body. If you stop suddenly, it can cause lightheadedness because your heart rate and blood pressure drop quickly. If you wind down slowly the heart rate and blood pressure fall gradually.

Start slow and build your muscles. If you’re looking to start building your muscles and strengthening them, you’ll have to lift heavy weights, eat a diet based on your goals and take proper rest. Should you soak a sprained ankle in epsom salt? Find out here.

 Studies about military recruits who were told to perform a particular amount of vigorous exercise conclude that, those recruits who have been the least active and less fit suffered more.

Studies also point out that injuries are related to duration, frequency, intensity, or the total amount of training. Therefore it’s wise to start slow and buildup your muscles. So, how’d you go about?

  • Change the intensity of your runs
  • Run at an incline
  • Include weight lifting and resistance bands
  • Be sure to rest
  • Get enough protein in your diet

Recognize early systems of overuse. The following are the symptoms of overuse injuries:

  • Gradual onset of pain
  • No history of direct injury
  • Pain presenting as an ache
  • Visible swelling
  • Point tenderness
  • Missed training sessions as a result of illness or injury
  • A persistent problem

When you experience nagging aches and pains that arise too frequently after running, you need to pause and listen to your body. Consult a physiotherapist before it becomes worse and gets you off the track for good.

Get the right shoes for your feet. Running shoes provide support in the midsole and padding and reinforcement in your heel. While running, you hit the ground with 2-3 times your body weight. So, it’s prudent to wear footwear designed specifically for this activity.

The type of your foot and the running style will help you determine the type of your perfect shoe. Wear proper fitting shoes and socks with good support. If the soles of your shoes are worn thin or angled, it’s time to get a new pair. If you have problem feet such as a flat foot or high arches, consider using orthotic shoe inserts.

Prepare your heart for exercise everyday. There are some rare incidents whereby a runner passed away or had some severe cardiac complications while running. To protect yourself from such happenings, take things slow and be active on a regular basis. Try to build up your running routine rather than running endless laps all of a sudden.

Here’s a list of cardiologist guaranteed best cardiovascular exercises. Strengthen your heart with these exercises to improve your running performance.

  • Interval training
  • Total body non impact sports
  • Weight training
  • Core workouts
  • Yoga
  • Being active all day

Worst exercises for your heart:

  • Running long distance on pavement
  • Any vigorous exercise you haven’t trained for

Stay hydrated to keep your blood pressure from falling. Most of the times running reduce your blood pressure. If you suffer from low BP, you may feel dizzy. So make sure you are well hydrated before,during and after running. Always have a sipper by your side to avoid dehydration.

Dehydration affects your running performance negatively. Water and carbohydrate replacement drinks are excellent for maintaining hydration while running.

Treatment of Common Running Injuries

You will feel relieved by following these procedures which we’ve discussed below. If pain and discomfort continue, check with your healthcare provider.

Rest. If you get pain while running and continue to do so, your injury may get worse. Choose other methods of healing such as swimming or cycling.

Ice and cold therapy. Apply ice packs to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Compression. Wrap the affected area with tape and use splints. They support to control swelling and stabilize the affected area.

Elevate. If you hurt your foot or sprain your ankle, raise your legs to reduce swelling.

Stretch. Do gentle stretches and massage the affected area to reduce pain

Pain relievers. Take over the counter pain relievers such as:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as naproxen (Aleve)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) that your health care provider recommends to reduce pain and inflammation.


Never ignore pain, always listen to your body. Before you begin a running routine, talk to your trainer. She may help you to create a plan according to your fitness level and long-term goals.

Mix up your fitness routine. Try swimming, biking, tennis or other activities to build your fitness. Wear lightweight breathable clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin. Dress in layers. Wear a hat to protect from the sun.

Run on flat, smooth surfaces, Avoid steep hills until your body gets used to this form of workout. Run during the day in well-lit areas. Using light and cell phone helps to identify you in case of emergencies. If you’re running with headphones, keep your volume low enough to hear cars and other noises. Run with a partner if you can.

Avoid running outside if the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, below freezing or if humidity, is high. Stay hydrated.

All the risks involved should not put you off running. If you follow the smart tips, tricks, and prep, that we’ve listed you can master this exhilarating and rewarding sport.

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