Common Running Injuries
Running Injuries: Tips & Inspiration
Common Running Injuries

If you’re struggling with any of the injuries below – you’re not alone! We all have either been there, we currently are there, or we will be in the future. So, heads up and check below our summary of the most common running injuries. Get informed, inspired, and motivated to see the light at the end of the tunnel! There’s still hope for us all.

Foot & Ankle / ITB, Thigh & Hip / Knee / Shin & Calf / Back & Other

Heel pain

FOOT & ANKLE INJURIES

Achilles Tendinitis

What is it?
Inflammation of the Achilles Tendon, increasing pain and swelling at the back of your leg and ankle. You can feel stiffness of the tendon, especially in the morning, which eases during the day. 

What causes it?
There might be a few reasons. The most common are: suddenly increasing your activity, tight calf muscles, and wearing running shoes with the wrong kind of support or flexibility (or shoes that are just too old)

How to treat it?
Rest! Stop running completely when you feel pain. Use anti-inflammatory pills, heel pads or supportive insoles. Massage and strengthening exercises can help at the later stage when the acute pain drops. 

How to prevent it?
Maintain a steady increase of mileage – increase no more than 10% per week with lower workload every 4th week. Cross training and strength training – core, cycling, swimming, etc. Mix high impact with low impact. Massage your calves or use a foam roller like The Grid.

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Plantar Fasciitis & Heel Pain

What is it?
Inflammation of the plantar fascia (fibrous tissues running across the sole of your foot, from heel to toe). Pain is usually located under the heel, or more rarely on the side. It's the first thing you feel when you get out of bed in the morning – like stepping on a stone.

What causes it?
Tight Achilles tendon, overpronation, wrong or old running shoes (lack of support or wrong place of the support), or obesity.

How to treat it?
Of course, rest! Also, make sure that you have properly fitted, cushioned and supportive shoes. Massage your foot (try a Pediroller) and stretch your calves.

How to prevent it?
Make sure that your shoes are changed every 400-500 miles. Impact damages the cushioning and support. Massage your lower legs on a regular basis.

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Metatarsalgia or Forefoot Pain in Runners

What is it?
It’s a general name given to pain in the midfoot (under ball of your foot). It is usually noticed during walking and running, not that much when sitting. Flexion of your foot might exaggerate pain.

What causes it?
The most common reason for forefoot pain is inflammation of the metatarso-phalangeal joint, stress fracture of the metatarsal bone or Morton’s neuroma.

How to treat it?
We advise you to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Until then rest your foot, use hot and cold treatment, take a course of anti-inflammatories and use a roller  (try a Pedirollerfor pain relief.

How to prevent it?
Make sure your running shoes are wide enough that they don’t squeeze your toes. Using more cushioned shoes for longer runs can reduce the impact on the forefoot. Keep an eye on your mileage, so your body can progressively adapt to changes.

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Hip pain when running

ITB, THIGH & HIP INJURIES

Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

What is it?
Inflammation and overuse of the IT band, which is located on the outside of the thigh and connects the knee with the hip.

What causes it?
Sudden increase in a training – especially watch out for your downhill running technique! Lack of flexibility and mobility of the hips. Muscle imbalances between lower back, hips and knees. The pelvis can also pull the muscles, putting more pressure on the IT band.

How to treat it?
Rest and ice after acute pain. Use The Grid to massage the outside of your thigh (careful not to use your whole body weight right away, because it might be painful). Implement stretching of the IT band too.

How to prevent it?
Strengthen your core and glutes (see our Injury Prevention videos). Incorporate hip mobility exercises too. Keep an eye on your mileage, make sure you’re not increasing it too quickly.

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Hamstring Pain

What is it?
The most common is tightness of the muscles at the back of the thigh, which feels like a cramp sensation. Over time it can lead to the more severe strain or tendonitis (muscle inflammation).

What causes it?
The most common cause is overloading, so doing too much too soon or forgetting to properly warm up before a training session. The other is over lengthening and is caused by overly tight quadriceps, which caused a pelvic shift and muscle imbalance.

How to treat it?
If you feel the cramp, very(!) gentle stretch and massage should do the trick. For acute pain a cold pack might reduce the inflammation.

How to prevent it?
Keep an eye on your weekly mileage and avoid sudden increases. Warm up and cool down after each running session. Also, remember to incorporate some hamstring strengthening exercises in your workout. Don’t focus on quadriceps only.

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Hip Pain from Running

What is it?
Pain of the hip joint itself or of the structures surrounding the hip: at the front (groin pain), outside of the hip or in the buttocks.

What causes it?
For runners pain usually comes from overtraining, which cause inflammation of the muscles, tendons or ligaments. Bone structure might also be disrupted by a stress fracture.

How to treat it?
The inflammation usually goes away by implementing hot/cold treatment, gentle massage and plenty of rest. If the pain doesn’t subside, visiting doctor for an x-ray might be a good idea. A good physiotherapist or chiropractor can work like magic too!

How to prevent it?
Correctly chosen and fitted running shoes are a must. Keep an eye on your training mileage and be careful with overtraining. Implementing strengthening and mobility exercises on a weekly basis can do the trick too.

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Hip Flexor Pain

What is it?
Hip flexors are a group of muscles and tendons at the front of your hip. They are responsible for moving your thighs upwards and forwards. Shortened hip flexors can cause tightness, inflammation, and pain in your hamstrings and back.

What causes it?
Plenty of reasonsThe main ones are overtraining, poor biomechanics, wrong running shoes, sedentary lifestyle, increase of the speed work.

How to treat it?
Implementing stretching on a regular basis is number one. Add some hip mobility to your workout routine as well. And rest!

How to prevent it?
Strengthen your core muscles, glute Medius and abductors. Adding Pilates classes is a good idea too. If you're not sure about your running technique, get assessed by a good running technique coach.

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Knee injury

KNEE INJURIES

Runner's Knee / Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

What is it?
Generally speaking, any pain related to the patella (knee cap) is called patellofemoral pain syndrome. You might feel pain right at the front or around the patella. Sometimes you might notice a clicking or crunching sound when bending the knee.

What causes it?
Usually the patella is irritated by the overuse. Also, it gets irritated when the kneecap slides in the wrong direction over the thigh bone. That can be caused by the body weakness, muscle imbalances or overpronation.

How to treat it?
For acute pain, implementing RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is always a good idea. However after 48hrs have passed, warming the damaged tissue might be more beneficial to increase blood flow and improve healing. Avoid impact and flexing your knees.

How to prevent it?
Incorporate strengthening exercises for your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hips. Make sure that your running shoes have the right amount of support. And of course, monitor your weekly mileage to prevent from overdoing.

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Calf injury

SHIN & CALF INJURIES

Shin Splints

What is it?
Aching or tenderness of the muscles inside, at the front or on the side of the shins. Muscles inside the shins are layered between the tibia and fibula bones. That lack of space for expansion means they are prone to getting inflamed pretty easily.

What causes it?
The main cause is too much too soon, so keep an eye on your mileage. Also, lots of hill training or hard surface running, not enough cushioning in your running shoes, tight calves and overpronation could be the cause of the shin pain.

How to treat it?
The most effective, but also the most uncomfortable way is to massage it – every day. Injured muscles are very tight, so to help reduce inflammation we need to soften them to allow for better blood circulation. Avoid running with pain because it will prolong the injury.

How to prevent it?
Regularly stretch your calves after a run. Implement some strengthening exercises, especially single leg ones. Make sure your running shoes are cushioned and supportive enough. Mixed up the terrain – choose paths other than asphalt wherever possible.

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Calf Strain from Running

What is it?
There’re two main muscles within a calf – gastrocnemius on the outer side and soleus underneath. Usually, strain feels like an ache of the soleus or sharper pain of gastrocnemius.

What causes it?
Not warming up properly before a run or stretching afterwards, too much mileage too soon, lack of support in your shoes. Make sure that you’re taking enough electrolytes during hot weather sessions.

How to treat it?
Rest, rest and rest. If you run with pain it's going to get worse. You can try wearing compression socks or calf tights. Hot/cold treatment is always a good idea. Gentle(!) stretches and massaging might be very helpful too.

How to prevent it?
Warm up and cool down after each run. Resist overtraining – keep an eye on your weekly mileage. Replenish electrolytes during hot months. Regularly massage your calves using a massage aid, such as a foam roller or electrical device.

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Stress Fracture from Running

What is it?
A hairline crack on the weight-bearing bone, so situated in the lower body. A small ache somewhere along the bone gets worse over time, eventually even without putting your weight on it. You might notice a small bump or swollen area on the bone.

What causes it?
The main reason is overuse. A stress fracture won’t happen overnight, it takes time to damage a bone. You also might be more prone to having it because of osteoporosis or a general lack of nutrients, which affects the bone’s density. Lack of strength training or an old pair of shoes won’t help either.

How to treat it?
Stop running immediately and book an appointment with your doctor for an MRI. Then, it depends how severe the damage is. You might be put into the infamous boot, but it’s not necessary in some cases. Sometimes your doctor might ask you to even stay in bed. Basically rest, rest, rest and no impact at all.

How to prevent it?
A consistent training programme with proper rest between sessions is always good idea to prevent overtraining. Change your running shoes every 500 miles and incorporate some strengthening exercises. You might supplement with vitamin D in winter and generally keep a balanced, healthy diet.

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Varicose Veins

What is it?
Blue or purple swollen veins occurring usually on the calves. Usually, they’re harmless. In rare cases they might be painful and inflamed.

What causes it?
Build-up of the blood in veins caused mainly by being overweight, having poor circulation, standing for long periods of time or pregnancy.

How to treat it?
If you’re concerned about your veins, seek advice from your doctor who can implement the right treatment. Otherwise, natural remedies like horse chestnut seeds might help. Also, acupuncture and homeopathy can sometimes reduce varicose veins.

How to prevent it?
Maintain a healthy weight and keep your legs mobile as often as you can. Wearing compression socks or calf guards might be beneficial too.

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Back Pain

BACK & OTHER INJURIES

Back Pain in Runners

What is it?
Soreness and tension of the back usually, felt at the lower part.

What causes it?
Usually, a sedentary lifestyle is the main reason for back pain. Hours spent at the desk cause our hamstrings and shoulders to tighten and pull the back muscles.

How to treat it?
Even gentle body-weight strengthening exercises should awaken sleepy muscles and release some tension. Consider Pilates classes and stretching at the end of the day. Also, a good osteopath might be bliss for acute pain.

How to prevent it?
Implementing core and back strengthening exercise is the best you can do. You don’t need to get gym membership. Even bodyweight exercises at home will immensely strengthen your body.

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Overtraining

What is it?
The constant feeling of being tired, fatigued and exhausted even after days of good rest. Also, loss of enthusiasm, sleep problems, increased stress and irritation. Check your morning heart rate.

What causes it?
Training to an excessive load for a long period of time, inadequate rest after workouts and some life influences causing extra stress.

How to treat it?
Less training and more rest are the simplest way to get better. Give yourself a good break for a few days,  knowing that this is also an important part of your training routine. Good diet, massage, acupuncture – indulge yourself!

How to prevent it?
Implement rest days between your training sessions, enjoy easy runs and aim for life balance with good diet, sleep and plenty of water. Think about cross training – discover other activities!

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Injured from running

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

A running injury doesn’t need to be the worst thing in the world that can happen to you. If you're injured from running, it’s up to you how you’ll use the time given to you (yes, it’s a gift!). I would be lying if I said I’ve never had a running injury. Moreover, I’ve never met a runner without any injury history. When one door has closed, the window of opportunity has opened. 

Personally, I cycle and practise yoga thanks to my injury. I couldn’t run for almost a year, so to keep myself sane I discovered other activities I actually could do, which I love so much right now! Injury often teaches us what needs adjustment in our lifestyle or training programme or technique, so we can become a better runner in the future.

Sometimes to take a big leap forward, we need to take a step back first.

As mentioned above, running injuries can so often be improved or avoided altogether if you have properly fitted running shoes, with the right level of support, flexibility and cushioning for you. At Run and Become we offer two options for Natural Gait Analysis shoe-fittings:

GAIT ANALYSIS APPOINTMENTS

In-store appointments are available when the shops are open, which is dependant on local Tier restrictions. Please choose a store:
LONDON / EDINBURGH / CARDIFF

ONLINE GAIT ANALYSIS

Sheltering at home? Too far away from a store to visit us? We now offer a different way of assessing your gait, so you can stay home, while enjoying the excellent personalised customer service you've come to expect from us.
FIND OUT MORE

Sports Injury Clinic

SPORTS INJURY?
For one-to-one advice, visit our expert in-store practitioners:
LONDON EDINBURGH CARDIFF

This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. The exercises in the video are ones we've found very useful and want to share with our customers. But we're not certified instructors. Always consult your specialist before beginning any exercise programme. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises or advice, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

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