“What is the most common running injury?”
This is a question I get asked a lot. By runners mainly, especially those relatively new to it, but also by the odd non-runner. In this case they usually know someone who runs and is or has been injured, or maybe tried to start running themselves but sustained an injury pretty quick and stopped.
There are various stats out there that show which injuries are most common in specific sports and running is no different. But this is MY list! This list is compiled based on the people I see and speak to in my clinic, and the number of hits I get on particular pages of this website!
I think it’s interesting reading and well worth knowing which are the most prevalent injuries in your sport, as this can help you to prevent becoming a victim yourself!
The Top 5 Most Common Running Injuries
#5 – Plantar Fasciitis
Coming in at number 5 is that pesky condition known as Plantar Fasciitis, which despite most runners being barely able to pronounce it, we all know what it is! Just for those who don’t – it’s a degenerative condition of the thick band of fascia under the sole of the foot, where it attaches to the heel bone. Symptoms include pain and stiffness for the first few steps every day and after resting and pain under the heel. I guess I see a case of this every couple of months and about 50% of these are due to running. Learn more here, including how to prevent plantar fasciitis
#4 – Achilles Tendinopathies
Next up are all forms of Achilles overuse injuries, nicely covered by the umbrella term tendinopathies. These are again, degenerative conditions which affect either the Achilles tendon itself or the sheath surrounding it. The symptoms include pain in the Achilles, stiffness in the calf and Achilles (again – first thing in the morning and after periods of rest), a creaking feeling in the tendon when moving and the tendon might look thicker than the one on the other leg! Find out more about treating and preventing Achilles tendinopathies here.
#3 – Piriformis Syndrome
This is a personal favourite of mine (if you can have a favourite injury!). This is firstly due to the fact that I have had it and know how It feels. I also like it because often patients with sciatic symptoms, as occur in piriformis syndrome, have been told they have ‘probably slipped a disc’ in their back. So their reactions and relief to find that this is not the case and there’s no need to get the scalpel out just yet is great to see.
Not all sciatic symptoms are coming from the spine. Tight butt muscles pressing on the same nerve (just a bit lower) can be extremely painful and debilitating – much to most peoples surprise! Learn more about Piriformis Syndrome symptoms and causes here.
#2 – Shin Splints
Shin splints are at number two. Technically they shouldn’t be as there are up to 30 different conditions which could be classed as ‘shin splints’! But, as even I can only name a few of them, we’ll bend the rules on this occasion! All cases of shin splints cause pain on the inside lower part of the shin. They are often due to footwear issues and biomechanical problems – from both above and below the injured area. Training errors are also often a cause. Learn more on the causes and prevention of shin splints here.
#1 – Calf Pain / Tightness
And the winner of most common running injuries is….CALF PAIN! And this is a pretty convincing victory too. In the last month my calf tightness whilst running page has seen 6890 visitors. The next closest had just 3469 visitors!
Why is it such a common problem? I think it’s largely a case of your calf muscles working overtime when running and then not getting the chance to rest in between workouts . Just think – every time you push-off with each step, your calf muscles are propelling your body weight up and forwards. Then, once the training is over, they still have the same job to do (although in a less intense form) just to allow us to walk from A to B.
Add in to this equation the increased stress placed on the calf muscles from the following issues: overpronation; oversupination; excess body weight; unsuitable running shoes; forefoot running; high heels (not when running – I hope!); hip and glute muscle inhibition; and the list goes on!
So there you have it! My most common running injuries. If you’re just starting running, it is well worth having a read up about these injuries and what causes them, so that you know what to do or not do, to help avoid them happening to you!