The Runner’s Guide to Injury

Running is well known to be a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness, but did you know is also associated with a high risk of musculoskeletal injury?

Hi there, Dr. Sarah Bailey here, aka The Gym Medic! 

Welcome to ‘The Runner’s Guide to INJURY’ and thank you for choosing me to support you to be the best runner you can be!

As a Doctor working in professional sport, a fitness instructor, as well as being a General Practice trainee, many people ask me for extra advice and tips to keep them injury free. So here we are to help, and today we’re helping you, the runner!

Running is well known to be a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness, but did you know is also associated with a high risk of musculoskeletal injury?

Over lockdown many more people have taken up running which is amazing, but it’s also vital to know about the injury profile of any sport you are taking part in!

Studies have found up to 50% of regular runners report having more than one injury per year[1], most of which are overuse injuries.

If running’s your thing, then it’s important to recognise this, note any injuries early and seek advice from your own doctor.

Therefore, in this guide we will educate you on some common injuries seen amongst runners.

All of our statistics and information is taken from up to date, referenced reputable scientific sources and I always practice ‘evidence-based medicine’.

RUNNING: What Common Injuries should I look out for in my sport?[2]

Ankle & Foot Injuries

Injuries of the foot and ankle make up 1/3[3]of the injuries which long distance runners sustain.

Most commonly these are:

Achilles Tendinopathy

Gradual development of pain and stiffness in the back of the lower calf. Initially after rest. Symptoms initially may improve with exercise, however over time pain may be noted after exercise and finally during exercise if not appropriately addressed.

Plantar Fascitis

            Heel pain and stiffness, worse in the mornings then settles. Pain may flare if walking/running long distances or after a period of sitting.

Ankle Sprains

            Mechanism of injury is usually a ‘rolling’ of the ankle. 

Knee Injuries

Knees are most commonly injured joint across all running distances. 

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

            Vague aching over the anterior (front) of the knee. May feel grating or clicking behind the patella (knee cap). Aggravated by running long distances, stairs, or sitting for long periods.

Runner’s Knee (Illiotibial Band (ITB) friction syndrome)

            Pain over lateral aspect (outer edge) of the knee during a run, often on cambered (uneven) courses.

Shin Splints (Tibial Stress Syndrome)

                        Common overuse injury, often causing medial (inside of leg) calf pain along the bone known as the tibia.

Other Injuries

Stress fractures (Metacarpals (foot bones) & Tibia (lower leg bone)

Microfractures associated with repetitive stress. Pain increases in severity as exercise duration increases.

Hamstring Injuries

Typically acute, resulting in sudden sharp pain in the posterior (back) of the thigh.

If you or someone you know is concerned about any of the above injuries please seek advice from your own medical professional. Most of the time with adequate rest and rehab injuries from running can be self limited however in some cases expert medical attention is required and it’s vital you speak with your own doctor about this!

I hope you have found this quick summary of common injuries in running useful and the idea of this post is to give you fellow runners insight into what injuries you need to look out for. Please do comment if there are any other sports injury profiles you wish to hear about!

Over & Out

The Gym Medic x


[2] Oxford Handbook of Sports and Exercise Medicine.


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