Common Injuries That Plague Keen Runners –


Most runners have experienced them – those niggling and sometimes debilitating injuries – that are most likely to be overuse injuries.

Despite overuse injuries being the most common running injuries, many runners are not sure as to what they are, their symptoms and most importantly how to avoid them.

During any 12-month period, up to 70% of recreational and competitive runners sustain overuse injuries.

They can occur from training errors – changes in running frequency, duration, speed and unfamiliar surfaces and terrain. A relative lack of leg strength and flexibility, and footwear, may also contribute.

To help prevent these injuries, Smartplay, Sports Medicine Australia’s injury prevention program funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, outlines the types of overuse injuries that runners may experience, the symptoms to look out for and advice on how to avoid them.

Common overuse injuries

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

PPS is most commonly referred to as runner’s knee. It involves pain in or around the kneecap. Usually this the result of the kneecap not tracking smoothly through the groove in the underlying bone when the leg is being bent and straightened.

Runners knee may be initiated by a twisting injury and is very common in long-distance runners.

Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome

IBFS is a sharp debilitating, lateral knee pain, usually occurring at a certain period of a run, especially after a change of footwear or running intensity.

Most athletes report that downhill running makes it worse.

Achilles Tendon

This is an injury felt just above the heel. Many runners report that the achilles is often stiff and sore when
getting out of bed the day after a run.

Tibial Stress Syndrome

This injury causes inflammation and pain along the inner part of the tibia (shin bone).

Injured runner holding his knee

How to reduce the risk of overuse injuries

Good Preparation

  • Always warm up and cool down by jogging slowly
  • Hydrate prior to running and consider taking water on longer runs

Good Technique and Practices

  • Avoid doing too much too soon. Establish a graduated training program
  • Allow 24-48 hours rest and recovery between running sessions. Cross training, cycling or swimming can be done on ‘rest’ days
  • Build up the intensity of activity slowly to ease stress on load bearing tissue
  • Start slowly at a pace where you can have a conversation without breathlessness
  • Gradually build up running speed and distance (no more than 10% per week)
  • Cut down if you experience pain. Pain is a sign that the body is not adapting to the exercise load
  • Avoid running when you are tired and at the hottest part of the day
  • Every runner has a unique running style, and there is no single ideal. However, poor pelvic stability can often predispose to injury. A sports physiotherapist or coach can help to correct this
  • A calf-strengthening program will help counteract many Achilles Tendon, shin and Plantar Fascia problems
  • Read up about the difference between pronation and supination and why choosing the right running footwear is vital.

Check Running Surfaces

  • Run on a clear, smooth, even and reasonably soft surface. Avoid uneven surfaces, sand and concrete
  • Gradually introduce surface changes. Running on a variety of surfaces is a good way to help the body adapt to increasing demands.

Wear the Right Equipment

  • Wear shoes specifically designed for running that match your foot type
  • When buying new shoes, have them fitted by a professional and take your old ones with you so the salesperson can identify where your shoes wear the most.

With the right preparation, you should be able to greatly reduce your risk of running injuries.

However, if you are unlucky enough to sustain an injury, or perhaps you simply want some help warming up, you might want to take a look at our comprehensive guide to massage guns.

For recommendations on how to prevent walking injuries please check out this post.

For further advice on how to prevent running injuries, download a copy of the Smartplay Preventing Running Injuries Fact Sheet at Sports Medicine Australia