Common Running Injuries

Like other injuries, the most common running injuries can be prevented by gradual implementation of a running plan. If we allow our bodies sufficient rest between periods of exercise stress, then many of the injuries below can be completely avoided.

But knowing the signs, symptoms and treatments can help you significantly reduce the downtime if you unfortunately find yourself with one of these injuries.

As with any significant pain, running injuries should be taken seriously and professional medical consultation should be sought prior to continuing your fitness program.

Below are the most common running injuries, their symptoms, tips to prevent them from occurring and common treatment methods that you’ll likely be prescribed when you’re injured.

Running Injuries, Symptoms, and Tips to AVOID them

  • Stress Fractures  Stress fractures can become a very serious or ‘true’ fracture if not treated. The cause is usually excessive strain on the load-bearing bone (femur, tibia, pelvis, bones of the foot, etc..). If the body is not given time to rest, it will be unable to repair these damaged areas and the stressed area will become a weak point. At first, stress fractures may exhibit only a slight pain, but as severity increases these areas become tender and increasingly painful. Treatment should include rest and a significant reduction of activities that places weight and impact on the tender area. Stress fractures can be caused by overuse (too much, too soon, too fast); worn out running shoes; continual running on hard surfaces such as concrete.
  • Shin Splints  One of the more common running injuries, shin splints are usually most painful in the lower portion of the tibia and sometimes dissipate after a warm-up run. This injury involves one of the two tendons connecting your shin to your foot (anterior and posterior). To reduce the swelling, the injury should be iced and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, may be taken. The cause of shin splints could be overuse (too much, too soon, too fast); worn shoes; continued over-pronation; or tight calf muscles. Changing your shoes, making sure your routine is taking gradual steps and massaging your calf muscles can all aid in the prevention of shin splints.
  • Plantar Fascitis  Plantar Fascitis causes a pain and stiffness in the sole of the foot, just in front of the heel. It may be most painful in the morning after prolonged immobilization. Spanning the arch of the foot, this ligament-type fascia can be put under undue strain when calf muscles are tight; improper arch supports; or old running shoes. The injured area can be tapped, iced and massaged to relieve some of the pain. Stretching the Achilles tendon, keeping your calves loose, and avoiding overtraining are all good ways to help avoid this injury.
  • Runner’s Knee  As with shin splints, this knee pain could have a few different causes. The knee cap could be worn (Chondromalacia Patella) or the tendon may be under undue strain (Patellar Tendonitis). In both of these cases, the runner should have his or her biomechanics evaluated. Tight hamstrings, calf muscles, and pronation could all be adding to or causing this pain. The injured area should be iced and treated with anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling. And as with any injury, the value of rest can not be over-stated.
  • IT Band  The Iliotibial Band is a fascia that runs from the hip to the knee. Pain of the IT band is usually felt on the outside of the hip or knee and likely gets worse as the running continues. As with Runner’s knee, a check on biomechanics may get to the root of this injury, especially in over-pronation and gait problems. Worn running shoes and tight muscles, however can also cause this pain and can be prevented by wearing newer shoes and loosing muscles by massaging or stretching prior to running. Another cause is the prolonged running on uneven surfaces. If you, like many other runners, find yourself running many miles on the same side of the road - then you’re outer leg may experience IT pain due to the slope of the road. Try running on more even surfaces to see if this reduces the pain.

Hopefully you’ve noticed some the similarities for avoiding the common running injuries - overuse & old shoes.

The merits of stretching and massaging muscles are also apparent.

If you are displaying symptoms of these running injuries or other pain, please consult a physician. It’s much better to rest a few weeks and heal, than it will be to experience the pain and misery of months of downtime.

For more information on foot pain symptoms, their cause and their treatment, click here.

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