5 most common running injuries

Running injuries usually happen when you push yourself too hard. The way your body moves also plays a role.  You can prevent many of them.  Here's how recognise the most common running injuries and how to rehabilitate.


Where it hurts

Action Plan

Plantar Fasciitis

A dull ache or bruise along your arch or bottom of your heel, which is usually worse first thing in the morning.

Stop running for up to a week or until there's no pain.  Running through it can delay healing.  Cross-train with pool running or swimming; cycle or use an elliptical if you can without pain.  Roll your foot on a frozen water bottle twice a day for 15 minutes.  When returning to the road, run on softer surfaces, such as hard-packed trails.

Achilles Tendinitis

Severe pain and swelling above your heel, or dull pain around your heel that lingers.

If your Achilles tendon hurts during a run, stop and rest right away.  Ice regularly.  Strengthen your calves, and cross-train with pool running or the elliptical machine.

Illiotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome

Pain on outside of the knee that radiates up and down the leg when walking down stairs, or pain on outside of knee that starts during a run, then disappears.

Take a rest day or two and back off your mileage for a week to avoid a full-blown flare-up.  If you ignore the first symptoms and keep up your usual mileage and intensity, it may get worse.  Strengthen the hip abductors with lateral side steps, side leg lifts, and one-legged squats.  Swim, pool-run, or use an elliptical trainer.

Runner's Knee

Pain under the kneecap, particularly during or after long rungs, after long periods of sitting, or climbing stairs.

Run every other day and only as far as you can without pain.  Avoid running down-hill, which can worsen pain.  Cycling may speed your recoer by strengthening the quads.  See a doctor if the pain doesn't go away as the day progresses.

Shin Splints

Pain on the side or front of the shin that lessens as you warm up.

When the first twinges of pain strike, back off your running to a comfortable level for a few days to a week, then slowly up your mileage by no more than 10% each week.  Bike, pool run, and swim instead.  Icing your shins twice a day for 15 minutes each time; gentle calf, quadriceps, and hamstring stretching; and self-massage of the sore area can also help.  If the pain persists for two weeks, see a doctor about a possible stress fracture.


Running Injuries A-Z

The complete Runners World guide to running injuries