New Runner Aches and Pains
Updated: Jan 25
Coach April and the Couch to 5K group enjoying a post-run treat for their Coach's bday!
By April Corey
Are you new to running? Have you joined a local Couch to 5k program with a certified running coach or are you taking on the running challenge on your own?
Usually the first few weeks go well. You are having fun meeting new people, your run session time increases, and it's great. Then a few weeks in, your body settles in, and it may start to revolt. It may say “WHY are you torturing me?” or “You really are sticking with this, aren’t you?” or “I MISS THE COUCH!!”
New runners are especially prone to aches and pains so it's important to recognize and address them to keep running enjoyable. I have roughly categorized them in two ways– Physical Problems and Annoying Problems. Here's what those are and how to combat them.
Runner’s Knee: This painful condition occurs when you have pain under your kneecap. This is generally caused when there are abnormalities of the mechanics of the muscle/bone/other parts and pieces above and below the knee. This pain can be remedied by strengthening your hips and core so that your leg moves in the proper motion.
Shin Splints: The dreaded shin splints. This is a pretty common ailment to new runners because you are using the muscle on the front of your lower leg that is helping to propel you forward when you are pushing your foot off the ground when you are running. Proper shoes will help combat shin splints but the true fix is to simply strengthen this muscle. Heel raises will become your new BFF.
Achilles Pain: If you are weak in your hips, glutes, hamstrings or calves, you may experience pain radiating up from your Achilles to your calf. This may be due to your tendon taking over when your muscles should be doing the work. Strengthen and stretch. And, always make sure that you are nice and warm before you start your run. And then stretch when you are done.
All of the above aches, pains and ailments are to be taken seriously. Strengthening the hips, glutes, hamstrings and core will help in the long run. But, if the ailments have not remedied themselves with the use of ice, NSAIDS, stretching and strength training, then you may need to take time off and let the problem heal. If that doesn’t work, then a trip to the doctor may be in order.
Blisters: Blisters on the feet can mean that you are in the wrong size or type of shoe, you aren’t wearing appropriate socks or your feet just like to rub and aggravate you. First and foremost, go to your local running store that provides a gait analysis and make sure that you are in the proper size and type of shoe. They also sell socks and can give you guidance on a good pair. And you can always lube up your feet with a water-based lubricant.
Chub Rub: Yes, this is a real thing. When your thighs like to rub one another or your inner arms rub against the side of your body or the seam of your shirt/tank. Or for the ladies, sometimes the sports bra tries to rub you raw when you start sweating. Raw skin hurts and then as an added bonus, burns and will make you want to cry when you hop in the shower. My tried and true method is to lube up with a water-based lubricant on all the areas that rub. I own an “industrial” size container of my favorite lubricant and use it rather liberally.
It is important to S L O W L Y ramp up your distance and speed when you first start running. And, you should only be running three days a week and not on consecutive days when you first start. Be sure you've got good running shoes that are not past their prime.
Running is a great pastime and can be done with friends or solo. It is an easy way to blow off steam, meet new friends, experience new destinations or see how far you can push your body. You will be amazed at what your body can do if you push out those voices inside your head.
As always, if you have any questions on running, feel free to reach out to me or to any of the Team MPI coaches and we will get you going in the right direction!
(Injury graphics from Vive Health)