Sustaining an injury is something every runner dreads. It's not always so much the pain and discomfort that's what causes the fear — although, certainly, that can be pretty unpleasant. But more than that, for someone who loves running as a hobby, an injury often means that you'll need to stop for a while as you undergo massage therapy and other physio treatment.
Unfortunately, if you're a woman, there's actually a higher chance of some injuries than there is for men. There are a few probable reasons for this, and although nobody is entirely certain why it is, the most likely theories relate to anatomical differences.
The good news is that if you're aware of the sorts of injuries you're most likely to get, you can try and prevent them by taking extra care when you run. Here are the things you should look out for.
The knees absorb a lot of the impact from running, so conditions like runner's knee are reasonably common. However, women have a particularly high risk.
Part of the knee is called the anterior cruciate ligament, and because it's responsible for dealing with much of the daily stresses your knees go through, it's often on the front lines when it comes to injuries. Unfortunately, ACL problems are six times more common in women than men, in part due to differences in the pelvis and the way women stop and turn when running.
Wear good, shock-absorbing running shoes, pay attention to any twinges in your knees, and take extra care if you're doing any sort of running exercise that requires frequent turning.
The plantar fascia is a ligament that runs from your heel to your toes, and when it becomes inflamed, you have this painful condition. The impact to the heels when running is a common cause, but it's not entirely clear why there's a higher rate among women. Protect yourself with well-cushioned shoes and go easy on your heels.
Small fractures can happen in various bones of the legs and feet because of running, and many people don't realise what the cause of their discomfort is until the pain becomes severe enough for them to seek medical help. In addition to differences in gait, skeletal differences most likely account for women experiencing stress fractures more often than men, and women who are underweight or close to it are most at risk. If you can, avoid running on hard surfaces like concrete all the time, choosing grass or sand to give your bones a rest.
Women are also more likely to be deficient in calcium, which can mean bones are weaker. If you're worried about your calcium intake, see a doctor and ask to be tested, and make sure you include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet.