Top 10 Most Common Running Injuries

Written by: Editorial Staff

June 12, 2012
Filed Under Sports 

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most common running injuriesContributed by Info Guru Paul Seaburn

I may not look it, but I’ve been a runner since the days of Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and the running revolution.

Back before it was called “jogging.” I’m slow and steady, which may be why I’ve been able to avoid most of the most common running injuries. It’s important to know what they are because most of the common running injuries are avoidable, and most can be treated without a doctor’s visit.

Here’s how.

10. Blisters

blister heel

Probably the most common running injury, blisters are fluid-filled sacks under the surface of the skin and are caused by friction between your foot and your shoes or socks. Cover them with a bandage made for blisters – don’t try to lance them. Prevent them by breaking in new shoes gradually, wearing proper-fitting runner’s socks and applying petroleum jelly on trouble spots.

9. Black Toenails

black toenail

Every long distance runner gets a black toenail at some point. It’s caused by the toe rubbing against the front of a shoe until a blood blister forms under the nail. The nail eventually falls off and grows back, although a doctor can remove a painful one if needed. Proper-fitting running shoes with good toe room prevents most black toenails.

8. Chafing


Caused by friction between clothing and skin, chafing can make it uncomfortable to run. Ointment containing aloe will soothe the burn. Wear loose fitting lightweight clothing designed for runners and never wear damp shorts or shirts. Petroleum jelly can provide lubrication until the chafe heals.

7. Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fascitis

The band of tissue stretching across the bottom of your foot from heel to toes is called the plantar fascia and it can get inflamed and cause pain near the heel. People with high arches are prone to plantar fasciitis but it can also be caused by an increase in mileage. Ice it first, then treat it with rest and prevent it with calf stretches with exercise bands.

6. Shin Splints

shin splints

Shin splints are a pain the shin – the lower leg bone better known as the tibia. An increase in activity is generally the cause and runners with flat feet are more prone to get them. Treatment includes taping shin splints, ice after running, rest and stretches designed for the shin. If you plan to increase your mileage, do it gradually to prevent shin splints. Runners with flat feet should wear shoes or insoles designed for them.

5. Achilles Tendonitis

achilles tendon

Named for the Greek hero with the vulnerable heel, Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the large tendon running down the calf to the back of the heel. The pain and stiffness occur most often in the morning or after heavy activity. Ice the area, cut back on your mileage, do calf stretches and rest if it’s really painful.

4. Runner’s Knee

runners knee

It’s called runner’s knee because it’s a pain behinds the kneecap and it’s easier to say than patellofemoral pain syndrome. The pain appears after long runs, stair climbing or long periods of sitting and is caused by a breakdown of knee cartilage. Rest helps, as does icing the knee after a run. Lateral side step exercises help strengthen support tendons around the knee and a knee band designed for runner’s knee can help adjust your gait to prevent it.

3. Muscle Pull

muscle pull

If you feel a muscle in your calf or hamstrings pop and then start to hurt, you probably have a pulled muscle – a tear or strain in the muscle tissue. A pull is more serious than general aches and pains and should be treated with RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation. While generally not requiring a doctor’s attention, it will if you return to running too quickly. Prevent pulls by warming up slowly before running and taking care to avoiding running on uneven surfaces.

2. Stress Fracture

stress fracture

Another more serious running injury is the stress fracture – a small crack in a bone, generally the shin or one in the foot. Like the muscle pull, recommended treatment is RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation. If the pain is still severe after a few days, see a doctor for a brace or other treatment. Otherwise, rest is the best treatment, followed by a gradual return to running. As always, increase distance and speed gradually to avoid stress fractures.

1. Ankle Sprain

ankle sprain

If you run on a street with potholes or on a trail with rocks, you run the risk of tripping or falling and twisting your ankle, resulting in an ankle sprain. The most common ankle sprain is to the ligament on the outside of the ankle. Depending on the severity of the pain and the size of the swelling, treatment ranges from “RICE” to a visit to the doctor for anti-inflammatory medications or more serious treatment. Rest is mandatory, followed by exercises or rehabilitation. Stick to tracks to stay on even surfaces.

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