Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

A variety of factors can lead to running injuries including technique, terrain, footwear, and more.

“Every person is different and has a unique stride, which also means injuries can vary from person to person,” says Riverside physical therapist Ashley Rim, PT, DPT. “For example, some people may never have foot pain, but will develop a hip issue, and vice versa.”

Here are 6 common running injuries and ways to avoid them:

  1. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: Commonly Known as Runner’s Knee: This injury often causes pain around or behind the kneecap. Some ways to avoid runner’s knee include wearing supportive running shoes, increasing mileage gradually, strengthening your core/hip/leg muscles, and incorporating cross training like cycling or swimming.
  2. Shin Splints: Shin splints are often a dreaded running injury. This injury is when pain develops along the shin bones. “There are several ways to prevent shin splints including ensuring your shoes are supportive and increasing mileage gradually,” says Rim.
  3. Achilles Tendinitis: The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel and can become painful with more stress on the tendon through increased training volume, speed training, or uphill running.  Targeted strengthening and stretching interventions and foot wear modifications can assist in the recovery process to return to running.
  4. Plantar Fasciitis: This common running injury is characterized by pain in the heel and bottom of the foot and happens when the plantar fascia become inflamed. Similar to the running injuries above, ensuring you are wearing supportive running shoes designed for your foot type can help prevent this injury, as well as strengthening and stretching your calf muscles.
  5. IT Band Syndrome: If you find yourself having pain on the outside of your knee or hip, it may be IT Band Syndrome. Strengthening your hip abductors and glute muscles, using a foam roller to massage the muscles around your IT Band, and avoiding sudden mileage increases can help prevent this common running injury.
  6. Stress Fractures: A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone which is often caused by overuse or overtraining. Incorporating strength training, getting enough rest between tough workouts, and maintaining a balanced diet rich in nutrients can help prevent stress fractures.

“Remember to listen to your body,” Rim says, “Continuing to run while injured may cause further damage and could lead to an even worse injury, which is why you should seek advice from a medical professional.”

Riverside offers physical therapy at many locations throughout the area. You can get a referral to a Riverside physical therapist from your primary care provider or you can schedule an appointment by calling (815) 802-7090.