Common Running Injuries – and how to handle them

Womens Running Christmas

There are some common running injuries that can cause problems for runners of all abilities from time to time. If you’re experiencing any of the aches and pains below you’re not alone! Read on for some (non-medical) advice on how to handle them.

“Help – I’ve been running a lot and I’ve got pain on the outside of my knee!”

This sounds a lot like an iliotibial band issue. The band itself is a tough, fibrous strip of connective tissue which runs along the outside of the thigh and connects the hip to the knee. ITBS can be really painful and is often brought on by training errors such as attempting too much too soon, wearing the wrong shoes or issues with your running technique.

However, there’s no way of knowing for definite without a proper investigation. A sports physiotherapist can carry out a gait analysis and identify what might be causing the problem – for example, poor movement on one side and then overcompensation on the other as a result.

In this case, the approach should be twofold: firstly, dedicated and standalone strengthening exercises to target the muscles which need them, as well as working to incorporate these techniques when running. In other words, gait retraining – after all, it’s no good heading straight back into bad habits.

“My shins really hurt when I run – is this the dreaded shin splints?”

The bad news is, yes, it’s likely that pain along your shins – whether the front, inner or outer – is down to shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, (MTSS). This condition accounts for over 25% of all running injuries and it’s thought to be down to a tissue overload condition mainly affecting the tibialis posterior muscle and a related bone stress reaction. It’s as painful as it sounds – but as with all running complaints, it’s best to get it checked out by a professional.

A physiotherapist can advise you on your running technique and steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of shin splints – for example, shortening your stride and landing more lightly and evenly on the whole foot rather than just the heel might help.

“I’ve heard of runner’s knee – is that why mine’s hurting?!”

Runner’s knee is another common complaint for those clocking up the miles – usually the pain is below or around the knee and it’s made worse by squatting or bending. It could be down to having flat feet, wearing worn-down running shoes or aspects of your running technique, and the only way to really get to the bottom of it is a trip to an expert.

Many sports videos use video analysis of runners on a treadmill, then slow the images down and screenshot them to pinpoint different issues. For someone suffering from runner’s knee, overstriding, heel striking, hitting the ground with a relatively straight (extended) leg or a combination of all three could be to blame. Again, as before, dedicated standalone exercises to increase the capacity of the knee and patella tendon can help, as well as gait retraining to avoid falling back into bad habits.

Most running injuries creep up on you gradually. Spotting the early warning signs and taking appropriate action, rather than ignoring aches and pains, is the best course of action.

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