Trail running is good for the body and the soul. On a day of trail running, you can see the sights and gain great aerobic and muscular fitness. Trail running is not without its dangers. The uneven, rugged terrain often encountered can lead to acute and chronic injuries alike. If and when you are injured, please see a doctor if it appears to be more than a minor sprain or bruise.
Ankle sprains are the most common trail running injury. It is very easy to turn your ankle on the rocks and roots you will encounter out on the trail. If you suffer a sprain, practice RICE--Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation to the affected joint. Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen and wait until the swelling and pain go away. Get on a strength training program to avoid sprains in the future, or if you are so lucky, so that you never have one in the first place.
Bruises, Cuts and Contusions
You are running down the trail and whomp, you suddenly find yourself on the ground. Everyone trips eventually on the trails. The bruises and cuts that you will suffer will most likely be relatively minor and just require a cleaning out and some light bandaging. More rarely do they require stitches and a doctor's visit.
Another common bruising injury is the black toenail. Some runners get them frequently and some not at all. The best way to avoid blackened, bruised toenails that often lead to lost toenails is to size-up in your running shoes. If you are getting black toenails, it is very likely that your shoes are too tight across your toes. On average your running shoes should be 1/2 size to a full size larger than your everyday wear shoes.
Overuse Running Injuries
Trail running is not as repetitive in nature as road running. By picking your way carefully along a trail and running in the varied terrain of the great outdoors you are usually avoiding the common overuse injuries associated with running. But you still may get some. The most common are iliotibial band syndrome, tendonitis, and the many symptomed runners' knee. Overuse injuries are best dealt with by the RICE method. Consulting a massage therapist, chiropractor and/or physical therapist that is well versed in runners' injuries is a great, proactive way to jump start your healing. There are many therapies available through these practitioners that will aid in and accelerate your healing from an overuse injury.