5 Common Running Injuries & How To Avoid Them

Authored by: VSI

While running has an extremely positive impact on your body (i.e. strengthens the heart, improves cardiovascular endurance, aids in weight loss) it can often lead to a varying list of injuries. It is even estimated that nearly 80 percent of runners are injured each year! Don’t worry, though – we’ve got the top 5 most common running injuries and how to avoid them.



Runner’s knee, otherwise known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a tender pain around or behind the kneecap. The repetitive nature of running places a lot of pressure on the legs, especially when coupled with hard pavement and downhill running. These conditions contribute to muscle imbalances and weak hips and accumulate in placing unneeded extra stress on the knees, resulting in pain. One way to avoid Runner’s Knee is to stick to flat or uphill terrain and choose softer surfaces when possible. To treat the pain try using a knee brace, tape the knee prior to running, take anti-inflammatory medication, or cut back on mileage.


The tissues that connect your heel to your lower-leg muscles is called the Achilles. Mileage increase, improper footwear, tight calf muscles, or even a naturally flat foot can cause the Achilles tendon to become irritated, resulting in painful swelling. Try stretching your calf muscles before and after working out and wear supportive shoes. Also consider skipping that up-hill run you were thinking of doing. To treat Achilles tendinitis try anti-inflammatories, stretching, and the always-reliable R.I.C.E strategy {rest, ice, compression, and elevation}.


Plantar fascia is the tissue on the bottom of the foot and can often be the culprit of inflammation, irritation, or even tearing of the tissue. Plantar fasciitis may be the result of constant pounding of the feet on the road, or wearing unsupportive footwear. One way to reduce the pain is to wear shoes with extra cushion and stretch your heels prior to running. Resting also helps with the pain.


Shin splints are probably the most common running injuries. Shin splints occur when the muscles and tendons covering the shinbone become inflamed, leading to aching, stabbing sensations in the shins. To reduce the pain, place ice on the shins for 15-20 minutes and keep them elevated to reduce swelling. Shock-absorbing soles in your shoes may help to prevent this nasty injury and running of softer surfaces is a good rule of thumb.


Stress fractures are small cracks in the bones that are a result of repeatedly pounding greater amounts of force than the leg bones can bear. Stress fractures require time off and usually involve crutches and physical therapy. It may even require surgery! To avoid stress fractures be sure to cross-train so you don’t overuse your body, wear proper shoes, and chug that calcium.

If you’re experiencing difficulties running, or need an evaluation for ankle/joint pain, schedule an appointment with one of our Physical Therapists today!

Topics covered

About the Author

Featured Resources

Insights to Achieve a Pain-Free Life

Join the Patients We’ve Helped on the Road to Recovery