Running Physio – Common Injuries Caused by Running

There are numerous physical and psychological benefits to running, making it a globally popular sport and form of exercise. Unfortunately, injuries from running are a common occurrence affecting runners of varying ages and ability. Running physio may be required for a number of afflictions, such as:

Common Running Injuries

Runner’s Knee

One of the most common running complaints, Patellofemoral pain syndrome, more colloquially known as “runner’s knee”, is characterised by mild to severe pain localised at the back and around the top of the knee, caused by the contact between the posterior surface of the patella (the kneecap) with the femur. It may be aggravated by running downhill, down stairs or even sitting. There are a number of possible causes of Patellofemoral pain syndrome, overuse and repetitive strain are likely to be the primary cause. The syndrome also appears to be more prevalent in adolescent girls and women.

Treatment should include modified rest, ensuring that appropriate footwear is used during training, a knee brace or taping may be helpful and specific stretches and exercises. In many cases, physiotherapy is extremely beneficial as well as anti-inflammatory medication.

Shin Splints

Another frequently cited complaint, the term “shin splints” is used to describe pain in the shins caused by exercise. The muscles of the lower leg persistently pull on the periosteum, the covering sheath, causing painful symptoms. Shin splints are usually a result of overuse, other contributory causes may include; having flat feet, poor running style (the foot rolling outwards or inwards excessively), or poor muscle flexibility.

Rest, regular stretches, physiotherapy and sports massages are all helpful in the treatment and recovery from shin splints.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the whole body and is found at the back of the ankle. Pain, inflammation and in some cases degeneration of the Achilles tendon is usually a result of overuse. Inappropriate footwear, tight calf muscles or running uphill may also contribute towards this painful condition. For immediate treatment, rest accompanied by ice packs or heat packs and gentle stretching can be beneficial. For longer episodes of chronic pain, it is worth seeking professional advice from a qualified physiotherapist.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue connecting the heal bone to the toes, it also supports the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia becomes inflamed or irritated, due to strain often caused by overuse. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain and is frequently described as a sharp painful sensation at the bottom of the heel, which is often worse first thing in the morning, easing as the day progresses. Plantar fasciitis is often associated with flat feet (pronation) or high arched feet (supination), tight calf muscles or from the use of unsuitable footwear. Specific exercises and stretches provided by your physiotherapist should be practised regularly, as well as rolling the foot over a ball. In rare severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Stress Fractures

Small cracks known as stress fractures caused by running and other demanding physical exercises, may appear in the weight bearing bones of the body such as the tibia, metatarsals, fibula, femur or the navicular bones. Pain is the main symptom, this is usually felt locally, surrounding the fracture but may radiate to surrounding soft tissues causing muscle tenderness and further pain. Stress fractures are thought to be a result of impact loading and/or active forces as the runner pushes his/her foot off the ground. To avoid this type of injury it is important to build up to high impact physical exercise gradually, as bones take longer to strengthen than soft tissue. If a stress fracture is suspected, an X-Ray or MRI scan is necessary for a successful diagnosis.

running physio

Preventative Measures

Running exerts and puts pressure on the bones and soft tissues of the body, especially in the lower limbs – in order to cope with the strain of the physical demands of running, the body needs to build strength. This is a gradual process and injuries in beginners are often as a result of overuse of the muscles and soft tissues which have not yet built up adequate strength to endure running. On the other end of the scale, highly experienced runners are also susceptible to injury when they push themselves too hard or fail to rest sufficiently following an injury. It is important for runners to build up their strength gradually and to recovery fully from any injuries before further training.

Other preventative measures include the following:

The team at ProPhysiotherapy specialise in the management of pain, sports injuries and disability and can provide you with effective treatment helping you achieve your goals. In addition to our physiotherapy and sports massage services, we also offer various exercise classes as well as providing help and advice for other fitness related topics.


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