Marathon training is pretty grueling — there’s a reason only .05 percent of the U.S. population has run one!
When you’re running an average of 40 miles per week while training for the big race, you’re likely to experience some injuries.
Listed below are three of the most common injuries that marathon runners face while training, along with some tips on how to treat and prevent them.
1. Patellofemoral Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
Patellofemoral syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, occurs when the cartilage underneath the patella (kneecap) becomes irritated and inflamed.
Most runners experience patellofemoral flare-ups during or immediately following long runs. Spending long periods of time sitting can also trigger irritation, as can walking down hills or flights of stairs.
Runners who have a tendency to overpronate (let their feet roll inward) are more likely to suffer from patellofemoral syndrome, along with those who have weak quadriceps, hips, or glutes.
Technically, you can push through patellofemoral syndrome and continue training. However, you’re going to be better off if you take a few days off to rest — or at least reduce your mileage.
To prevent pain, make sure you incorporate strength training into your routine as well. Exercises like squats, hip thrusts, and lateral side steps with a resistance band will help you strengthen the muscles around the knee.
You should also work on shortening the length of your stride while increasing your step rate and landing with your knee bent slightly. Be aware of the position of your knees as you run, too — they should stay facing forward, tracking over your toes without rolling in or out.
2. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the fascia — the connective tissue that runs from the heel to the toes — becomes inflamed.
When it comes to dealing with plantar fasciitis pain, you have a few different options, including the following:
Night splints keep your ankle in a flexed position while you sleep. This stretches the fascia and helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Compression socks improve circulation in the feet, which helps speed up healing and reduce inflammation.
You should also make an effort to stretch the fascia regularly, especially before and after your runs.
The easiest way to stretch the feet is to wrap a towel around the ball of the foot while sitting with your feet extended in front of you. Hold the ends of the towel and use them to pull your foot up into a flexed position.
Calf stretches also help stretch the muscles around the feet and ankles.
3. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Shin Splints)
Shin splints occur when the muscles around the shin bone experience small tears.
Shin splints are quite common, especially in new runners and those who are returning after a long break. Runners can also experience shin splints if they’re training in ill-fitting shoes or have very flat feet or high arches.
When you first notice discomfort in your shins, it’s best to reduce your mileage for about a week. When you feel ready to increase your mileage again, avoid increasing it by more than 10 percent each week.
Test and ice are typically considered the best pain remedies. You can also wear an ankle brace or use special tape to help support the legs while training.
Stretching the calves and shins also helps to reduce irritation and speed up healing. To stretch the shins, kneel on a mat with the tops of your feet flat. If you need a deeper stretch, lean back on your hands and lift your knees.
If your shin splints persist, you may want to consider different shoes. Cushioned shoes are better for people with high arches, and more rigid shoes work better for those with flat feet.
It’s rare for a marathon runner to make it through their training without some kind of injury. If you’re experiencing one of the three conditions mentioned above, keep these treatment tips in mind so you can get back on your feet as soon as possible!