Common Running Injuries: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Although running is perhaps the simplest form of sport and exercise, it is highly susceptible to injuries. Running injuries are not uncommon among runners—novice or long-time.

And if you’ve been running for a while, you most likely have experienced any of these common injuries:


1. Runner’s knee

Also referred to as iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), runner’s knee is characterized by the tenderness of the iliotibial band (ITB), the connective tissue outside the thigh, and causes friction between the ITB and thigh bone. Runner’s knee results from overpronation, overtraining, tight ITB either naturally or due to lack of stretching, wrong shoes, weak hip muscles, and too much hill running.

People with runner’s knee feel pain and inflammation outside the knee. Pain is most pronounced when running downhill or on cambered surfaces, when knees are stretched, and even when simply walking upstairs and downstairs. At the onset of pain, running must be immediately stopped. Intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), cold therapy, and massage can reduce the pain. In severe cases, especially when the injury does not respond to any treatment or rehabilitation, corticosteroid injection is performed onto the site of injury.

2. Shin splints

Shin splints is a widely used term to refer to the pain at the front of the lower leg. The injury is commonly caused by intense running, bad footwear, running on hard surfaces, and poor ankle flexibility. Runners with shin splints experience pain inside the lower half shin, which usually extends to the knee, at the beginning of the run. The pain subsides while running but comes back after with a more stabbing intensity. Redness and lumps in the shin may also develop.

Treatment is centered around abating the pain, especially during the early stage when the pain is intolerable. It includes rest, massage, and cold therapy. Intake of NSAIDs is also advisable.

3. Achilles tendinitis

Because it is no longer considered an inflammatory condition, Achilles tendinitis is now often called Achilles tendinopathy. It is a condition in which the Achilles tendon, a band of tissues connecting the calf muscles—gastrocnemius and soleus—to the heel bone, is inflamed, and which may eventually cause degenerated tissue and scarring. Achilles tendinitis is generally caused by overworking the tendon, either by subjecting it to excessive pressure or forcing it to work under abnormal conditions. Factors include weak or tight calf muscles, excessive uphill running,  wrong shoes, abrupt changes in distance and speed, and weak ankle joints.

Achilles tendonitis is categorized into two: acute and chronic. The pain associated with acute tendonitis only lasts at the beginning of the run and may ease during and after the exercise. It doesn’t stay for more than a week. Chronic Achilles tendonitis, on the other hand, can go for weeks and months. Pain is consistent all throughout the run and when walking up or downstairs. Tenderness and redness may be apparent at the site of injury. Lumps may also develop.

Like other running injuries, Achilles tendinitis can be treated with NSAIDs. Massage, heel pad, casting, ultrasound treatment, and rehabilitation are also effective ways to correct the injury. In the case of serious injury, surgery is performed to remove the scar tissue.