Common Running Injuries and Prevention

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

August 4, 2020


With exercise being limited to our postcodes and having extra time on our hands, more people are starting to take up running or increase their running loads.

Running is a popular exercise that provides numerous health benefits, but it can also lead to injuries if not done properly. Runners of all levels experience common running injuries, and it is important to understand the causes and treatments of these injuries in order to maintain healthy running habits. We will discuss the most common types of running injuries, as well as prevention measures and treatment plans.

Common running injuries and symptoms

Runners are particularly prone to a variety of common running injuries due to the repetitive and high-impact nature of this sport. Most of these injuries occur in the general area of the leg, ankles, and foot. The following is a list of the most common injuries occur to runners:

  • Shin splints, medically known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), are a common issue for runners and occur when there is inflammation or tendinitis in the muscles surrounding your shinbone. In addition to pain during exercise, symptoms may include tenderness along the inner edge of your shinbone, swelling along your lower leg, muscle fatigue and soreness.
  • Runner’s knee can cause pain around the kneecap when you bend or straighten your leg fully. The most common symptom of runner's knee is a dull ache around or behind the kneecap that increases when sitting with bent knees for extended periods of time, going up or down stairs, or after exercise.
  • Plantar Fasciitis is another common injury that causes sharp heel pain when running, walking or standing on hard surfaces after being inactive for a period of time. Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis include heel pain and stiffness in the morning or after long periods of sitting, as well as burning or stabbing pain in the arch area of your foot.
  • Achilles Tendonitis is a painful condition that affects the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is characterized by pain along the back of your leg near your heel that worsens with continued activity.
  • Stress fractures also known as a fatigue fracture, are small breaks in the bones that occur due to overuse or repetitive motions. The signs and symptoms of stress fractures include localized pain when putting weight on that area, tenderness to touch, swelling around the area of injury, and possibly bruising.

Running injury prevention tips

Running is the most common activity people do to stay fit and healthy. But most people take fore granted best practices that can prevent most running related injuries. Please keep these injury prevention tips in mind so that you can keep running pain-free!

1. Warm up

Prior to your run, ensure you complete an appropriate dynamic warm up, to help prepare your body for activity. Starting a run 'cold' is a leading cause of acute muscle sprains and injuries. A dynamic warm up aims to increase your heart rate and activate your muscles; enabling greater range of motion, power and overall performance. 

2. Stick to a graduated running program 

Although we may be keen to start churning out the KM's, it is really important to gradually introduce load to your body. Completing a 5km run for the first time ever on back-to-back days can lead to an overload of certain structures and associated injuries. To prevent this from occurring, it is important to manage your distances, intensities and frequency of your runs to ensure a graduated load is achieved.

3. Recovery 

Include recovery days within your running program. These days are really important to allow physiological adaptations to occur within our body, making us stronger and 'fitter'. Running places a load of stress on our body which it must then adapt to for us to notice improvements. Without rest days, the body is not given a chance to adapt to a load which can result in injury or illness. Recovery can vary from appropriate nutrition, hydration, stretching, cross training or an active recovery.

4. Do not push through niggles

Unfortunately for the avid running, the "no pain, no gain" mantra does not apply. It is important to listen to your body and not push through any niggles, especially if symptoms are persisting or worsening.

Treatment for running injuries

Running injuries can be incredibly frustrating, especially for athletes. No matter the cause, these injuries can put a damper on your training and performance. It’s important to know how to properly treat running injuries in order to avoid longer-term damage.

The first step in treating any running injury is rest and recovery. This means avoiding exercise that exacerbates the pain, as well as taking time off from running altogether if necessary.

Ice and compression are also recommended for reducing swelling and inflammation around the affected area.

Taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may also be recommended by a medical professional to reduce swelling and assist with healing.

If symptoms persist or unnatural pain is experienced it is best to consult a specialised physician or a physiotherapist as soon as possible.


If you have any questions regarding your own running program or any running related niggles, call us at TSIC on 9783 9990 or book online to organise an appointment with one of our Physiotherapists. We are also offering Telehealth appointments so you don't have to leave your home!


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The Sports Injury Clinic acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the Bunurong people, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
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