Listed below are the 5 Most Common Running Injuries and the typical recovery timeline. I’m also going to add a few treatment ideas when dealing with these injuries. These can help to speed up the healing process and hopefully get you back to running sooner.
1. Shin Splints- 2-6 weeks recovery timeline
Shin splints are typically caused by an increase in miles without proper build up or improper foot wear. There are two types of shin splints that affect either the front of your shin or the inside. The best treatment options for shin splints are icing, ice massages w/ ice cups, calf massage, calf stretching, and new shoes!
2. Piriformis Syndrome – 6 weeks to 2 years
Piriformis syndrome is actually a coverall term for pain in your glute or hip region exacerbated by running. Piriformis syndrom is commonly caused by weak core and hip muscluature, old footwear, poor postural body mechanics while running, and increasing mileage too quickly. The main issue with piriformis syndrom is the tightening of the piriformis muscle which lies over sciatic nerve. It is best treated with hip and core strengthening, massage, dry needling, foam rolling, and piriformis stretching.
3. Achilles Tendinitis/osis- 4 weeks to 18 months
Achilles pain is also typically caused by increasing mileage too quickly, tight calf muscles, improper footwear, and adding too much hills/speedwork too quickly. Achilles tendinitis means it is an acute flare up of inflammation in your achilles, either at the insertion or mid belly. For this problem calf stretching, icing, increasing cushion in your footwear, and calf massaging can really help the problem. If the achilles pain becomes chronic, it can take much longer to heal and may require the use of eccentrics (strengthening the muscle while lengthening it) to get the tendon fully healed.
4. Plantar Fasciitis- 6 weeks to 18 months
Plantar fasciitis is another injury that when treated early usually isn’t too debilitating, but if allowed to get chronic can last for a long time. Plantar fascitis is again caused by tight calf muscles, tight intrinsic foot muscles, poor arch support, and improper footwear. Some treatment ideas for plantar fasciitis is rolling your arch with a golf ball or frozen waterbottle, calf stretching, night splints, over the counter or custom orthotics, and calf/arch massage.
5. IT Band Syndrome- 2 weeks to 6 months
IT Band Syndrome is typically caused by hip tightness/weakness or misalignment, increasing mileage too quickly, improper footwear, and lack or core stability. The best treatments for IT band syndrome is foam rolling, icing w/ ice cup massage, glute/hip strengthening, piriformis stretching, and IT band stretching. This is definitely one injury you want to catch early as the pain can get quite intense if you continue to run on it.
In conclusion, there are a few things that every runner should do to avoid sustaining these injuries to begin with. First and foremost is make sure you have good shoes! You should typically get new shoes every 500 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first. It’s amazing how many injuries could be prevented with just making sure to change out your shoes. Next, don’t increase your mileage or training intensity too quickly. A lot of injuries occur during either building up mileage too quickly or increasing the intensity of your workouts too dramatically. Like going from running base training on the trails to track workouts. And finally, don’t let you pains near joints and tendons go untreated for too long. Learning what type of pains are more muscle soreness and what are more sharp in nature can really make a difference in catching your injuries early enough to avoid them becoming chronic!
Physical therapists specializing in orthopedics or sports injuries are best at treating and diagnosing what may be causing any of these injuries.