The 4 most common running injuries (and how to avoid them)

Credit: Jeff Taylor

Credit: Jeff Taylor

Running injuries are an unwelcome (and painful) interruption to training. Both running newbies and marathon veterans alike are subject to injuries, however, there are ways to avoid them. Here's a list of some of the most common injuries and what you should do if you sustain one.

Runner’s knee

Also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), this injury is when a person feels pain under or in front of the knee. Janet Hamilton, Atlanta based-trainer and CEO of, said pain can be exacerbated by running downhill or down steps. The best way to avoid this injury is to strengthen hips and work on making hamstrings, calves and quadriceps flexible.

Shin splints

This is a term used to describe a wide variety of injuries consisting of irritation of muscles attached to the tibia bone. Pain can worsen when running on soft surfaces such as sand. Prevent by strengthening hips, performing exercise to improve calf flexibility and using a different running shoe if you’ve experienced this injury before.

Plantar fasciitis

Typically presented as pain on the bottom of the heel, it is caused by doing too much too soon and too fast, said Hamilton. She said it generally feels worse when getting up in the morning and putting weight on the afflicted foot. Her advice for avoiding this injury is to frequently stretch calf muscles throughout the day and wear the correct shoes while running and during the day.

Stress fractures

This is a bone injury that presents itself as a fracture as a product of overload. This injury requires a more substantial time away from running and can develop from a shin splint if not treated from the beginning. Early warning signs can be mild aching in the shin area. To avoid it, it’s best to address the underlying reasons and warning signs early on.

Additional tips

  • Drink lots of water, particularly during summer months, to avoid heat related injuries.
  • Good old fashioned squats and lunges are great for strengthening hips, and a standing hamstring stretch is a good starting point for flexibility.
  • Respect the injury when it first presents itself.