Our aim at St Kilda Physiotherapy is to restore pain free movement, function and strength when at home, work and playing sport.
Call Us: 03 9525 3896

Common Running Injuries

Common Running Injuries – St Kilda Physiotherapy


Running is a great way to stay fit and active. However, it can place extraordinary demands on an athlete’s body.  Ideally, every step of a run would be pain free with no niggling aches, pains or twinges, but in reality many runners frequently experience some degree of pain. Often these nagging pains are not serious enough to require time-out or complete rest but they can lessen the enjoyment of participating in the sport. Most common running injuries affect the lower limb where the hips, knees, ankles and feet are vulnerable to injury.

Hamstring muscle strain

The Hamstring muscles run down the back of our thigh and act to bend our knees and extend our hips. A twinge, tightness or cramp sensation felt in this area may indicate a muscle strain. In moderate/severe cases symptoms are amplified and a sharp sudden pain or tearing sensation is experienced. Runners repetitively use this muscle group. Therefore, if our Hamstrings are too tight or too weak the risk of injury increases. Many runners have strong Quadriceps muscles at the front of their thigh which may overpower their Hamstrings, this causes a muscle imbalance which can also trigger a Hamstring strain.

Patellofemoral Syndrome  or “Runner’s knee”

Patellofemoral pain syndrome is commonly known as “runner’s knee”.  The cartilage on the underside of the patella (kneecap) becomes irritated and typically presents as diffuse pain around the patella. This common overuse injury often flares up during long runs, descending hills or stairs, squatting or after extended periods of sitting.  Runners with a misaligned patella, pronated feet or weakness around their quadriceps, hips and gluteal muscles have biomechanical factors that place excessive load on the knee joint making them more prone to injury.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) or “Shin Splints”

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome more commonly known as “shin splints” presents as an achy pain or twinge around your tibia (shin bone) due to repetitive trauma to the connective muscle tissue surrounding the tibia. This is a common running injury and can be caused by biomechanical factors such as pronated feet or high arches or can be due to wearing incorrect or inappropriate footwear.

Calf Pain / Achilles Tendinitis

Calf pain and Achilles pain is a common injury for runners. The Achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles to the back of the heel. When placed under too much stress or through constant repetition the tendon can become tight and irritated (tendinitis). Typically this injury presents as pain and stiffness around the back of the heel and calf. Runners with tight or weak calf muscles are more vulnerable to this injury.

Assessing Common Running Injuries

Assessing your running injury will consist of a thorough physical and biomechanical examination of the joint including specific and functional tests. The aim of the assessment is to provide safe and effective treatment so that you can enjoy running again.

Treating Common Running Injuries

Treatment will depend on the severity, irritability and cause of your injury. Physiotherapy treatment aims to promote healing, reduce pain and stretch and strengthen your muscles as well as advice on injury prevention. Clinical research has proven electrotherapy, joint manual therapy, soft tissue massage, posture correction, taping and rehabilitation exercises are all effective in the treatment of these common running injuries.

Preventing Common Running Injuries

Previous injury is the most common predisposing risk factor for further injury. After you have been rehabilitated and returned to running it is important to prevent a recurrence of the injury. An effective warm up and cool down is always recommended and wearing appropriate running shoes is very worthwhile. Being gradual with your changes in speed, distance and running frequency is also advisable. Regular stretching and strengthening exercises for the lower limb should be continued as a preventative approach to allow you to run faster, run further, run more frequently and most importantly for you to enjoy running.


Leave a Reply