What Are the Most Common Running Injuries?

Whether you're new to running or a seasoned distance runner, some of these common running injuries can stop you in your tracks and spoil your fun.

What Are the Most Common Running Injuries?

India Lewis

In this post, we take a look at the top 5 most common running injuries and give some useful advice on what you can do to prevent them.

1. Blisters

Common sites for painful blisters are the toes, ball of the foot, or heel.

They are caused by excessive or prolonged friction on the skin, resulting in the outer layers of skin separating and filling with fluid.

If you’re suffering, it could be because your running shoes are brand spanking new or because they’re getting old.

New shoes need a little time to mould into the shape of your feet, so it’s not unusual to suffer a few niggles in the first few miles of wear.

For this reason, it’s always best to wear new shoes in gradually, rather than find yourself miles from home with a crippling blister forming on your foot!

Old running shoes lose their inner cushioning, and the fabric lining can simply become rougher in places through wear.

Without the original padding, your foot will move around more, and the result – blisters.

Preventing blisters:

  • Don’t wait for your old trainers to disintegrate before investing in a new pair
  • Try on new running shoes in a specialist running shoe store where expert staff can advise you on fit
  • Try wearing anti-blister socks designed to minimise friction
  • Keep your running shoes clean, especially if you run in muddy conditions that might lead to dried-on dirt creating an irritation next time you wear them
  • Avoid running in wet shoes, let them dry out before your next run.

Check out this great video…

2. Shin Splints

A burning feeling in the shin or front of the lower leg that’s exacerbated by running could be shin splints, caused by repetitive stress on the tibia (shin bone).

Most commonly, the pain is muscular, but it can be the result of small stress fractures appearing in the bone itself.

The pain feels most intense with each heel strike on the ground, but it may ease off as you get going on a run – only to rear its ugly head again as you step out of bed the next morning!

Preventing shin splints:

The first step in preventing any overuse injury is to understand the causes

Visit a specialist running shop to have your running gait analyzed; overpronation or oversupination without appropriate footwear could result in shin splints

If necessary, get advice from a podiatrist in the use of orthotics to help correct any gait issues

Always wear running shoes with appropriate support and cushioning for your running style and the mileage you do

Hard road surfaces create greater impact stress than grass or softer surfaces, so aim to vary your running routes whenever possible

Avoid sudden increases in mileage or sudden changes in any aspect of your training schedule as the muscles in your body, lower legs included, need time to adapt to the increased workload.

3. Knee Pain

Knee pain as a runner can be a dull ache in the muscles surrounding the knee that generally becomes more intense as you run, or it can be a much sharper pain that refuses to go away even when you’re not running.

Often, the type of pain that increases in intensity as you run is an overuse injury that’s muscular in source, whereas the type that persists even when you’re not running could indicate a more severe medical condition and should be checked out by your doctor.

Runner’s knee is one of the most common problems newcomers to running experience.

Otherwise known as iliotibial tract friction syndrome, pain is experienced on the outer edge of the knee due to friction between the iliotibial tract (tough fibrous band) and the tissues that lie beneath it.

Preventing knee pain:

Most soft tissue complaints experienced by runners, including runner’s knee, are overuse injuries, so an important first step in prevention is to have your running gait analyzed

Understanding your biomechanics or the way you move as you run makes it easier to kit yourself out with appropriate running shoes to help minimise the potential for injuries

If your knees are an area of weakness, get advice from an exercise professional or a sports therapist on the best type of knee strengthening exercises to do

Be aware of the potential for excess body weight to add to the workload on your knees; make sure your shoes give you the shock absorption you need and run those extra pounds off!

A study by Harvard Medical School found that:

There are two ways that being overweight raises your risk for developing osteoarthritis (the most common joint disorder, which is due to wear and tear on a joint). First, excess weight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints (the knee, for example). Second, inflammatory factors associated with weight gain might contribute to trouble in other joints (for example, the hands).

4. Plantar Fasciitis

This nasty condition primarily affects the sole of the foot under the heel, pain is experienced in the plantar fascia, a band of soft tissue running the length of your foot from heel to toes.

The pain is exacerbated by walking or running, and it often leads to extreme difficulty putting your foot to the floor when you step out of bed first thing in the morning.

It’s generally the result of taking up a new high impact activity such as running, but seasoned runners can also suffer if their running shoes are providing insufficient support for their running style.

Preventing plantar fasciitis:

Seek advice from experts at a specialist running shop when buying your running shoes, especially if you’re new to running

Always replace your running shoes before they’re about to fall off your feet.

Worn out shoes no longer provide the support and cushioning they should, but the change in the way you run in new “bouncy” shoes compared to your old ones can lead to changes in your stride pattern that may place new strains on your feet

Build up mileage or make any changes in your training programme gradual, giving your feet time to adapt to new stresses

Get professional advice on beginning a programme of exercises to help strengthen and improve the flexibility of your feet.

5. Achilles Tendonitis

Pain in the Achilles tendon, felt at the back of your ankle, often begins as a sensation of stiffness first thing in the morning, but it generally gets worse as you begin your run and then eases off again once the muscles start to warm up.

In some cases, the tendon becomes thickened and increasingly tender to touch.

Preventing Achilles tendonitis:

Probably the most frequent issues that can lead to Achilles tendonitis is friction created by the heel-tab of your running shoe, so wear shoes with lower cut heel-tabs

Choose new shoes designed with lower heel-tabs, or, cut small slits on either side of the heel-tab in your existing shoes to alleviate the irritation on your heel as you run

Change your running shoes frequently; old inner cushioning will flatten, and your heel will drop lower inside your shoe increasing the potential for irritation

In short, always choose function over fashion when it comes to buying running shoes!

Brooks Running