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Common Running Injuries: Prevention is Key

Updated: Mar 28

Need some helpful easy to implement tips to prevent running injuries this season? 

We have chosen to highlight some of the most common injuries we see in the clinic among long-distance runners and speak to easy and effective strength exercises and recovery techniques to help with prevention. We have divided the common injuries by area in the lower body with helpful exercises and tips for each section.


Each of these injuries is typically caused by repetitive stress and strain which comes with moving a joint or muscle group repetitively causing micro damage over time. This is incredibly common in endurance sports where someone is cycling, running, or swimming over long distances.

One of the most important pieces of advice when participating in endurance repetitive sports (i.e running) is to increase your mileage slowly and gradually. Injuries occur most often when people increase their volume and mileage quickly, not allowing for adaptation. The recommended increase is 10-15% volume increase (distance or time) / week for beginner or intermediate runners, if you are an experienced runner you can trial 20-25% increases and see how your body responds.

The Ankle 

  • Achilles tendonitis 

  • Calf Strain

  • Shin Splints 

When it comes to ankle and calf injuries in runners, the most effective and easy addition to any training plan for prevention is calf strengthening. If you aren’t already, you should be doing high repetition 2-3 x per week of single leg calf raises to keep the muscles of the foot and shin healthy and strong. The achilles tendon takes on about 6-8x your body weight with every foot strike… just think if you are doing a 10km run 1-2 x week, that is a lot of foot strikes, which equals a lot of load through your calves, achilles tendon, and ankles.  Below you will see a few different variations that you can incorporate with recommended progressions as you get stronger: 

Calves need HIGH volume strength training, start with 3 set x 15 repetitions and work your way up to 3 sets x 20-25 repetitions: 

Click on the exercise for video demonstrations

To learn more about calf strengthening for runners you can read out previous blog here.

Recovery Techniques: 

Click on the exercise for video demonstrations

Anecdotally, foam rolling can help with delayed onset muscle soreness and is an inexpensive recovery strategy. You can roll out your anterior shin and calves to help with muscle tension and soreness in this area. 

The Knee 

IT Band Syndrome and Patellar Tendonitis can be debilitating injuries when they occur, so why not include a few simple exercises in your strength training routine to keep them at bay. Two effective strengthening exercises to help avoid these injuries are: 

Click on the exercise for video demonstrations

There are many exercise variations and approaches to prevent knee pain while running; however, the main idea is to have a strengthening exercise for your quadriceps and lateral hip muscles (glutes). You can play around with different exercises as long as they are targeting those two areas. Single leg squats and standing fire hydrants not only work on strengthening but also help with unilateral balance, motor control, core control and are somewhat functional and transferable to running. 

Recovery techniques: 

You guessed it - we are carrying on the theme of foam rolling, next up are the glutes, IT Band, and Quadriceps. But are also including a one-stop shop mobility exercise.

Click on the exercise for video demonstrations

The Hip 

Hip Bursitis and Gluteal tendonitis typically affect the outside or lateral portion of your hip, causing pain when stepping or weight bearing, making them tricky injuries to manage if you are training for a long distance race. They typically occur with repetitive movement or friction at the hip. Below are a few exercises that can help keep these injuries at bay, which involve glute strengthening and maintaining good hip range of motion. 

Click on the exercise for video demonstrations

  1. Monster Walks 

  2. Hip Thrusts 

  3. Standing Fire Hydrants (also included in the knee section) 

Recovery Techniques: 

For our suggested recovery techniques we have targeted the glutes with foam rolling and a great mobility exercise that helps maintain range of motion in the hips through multiple planes of movement. 

Click on the exercise for video demonstrations

Remember the above recommendations are for prevention not treatment. This is not an exhaustive list, but more of a starting point to help with prevention. 

If you start to develop any of the above injuries you should reach out to your local physiotherapist for support and guidance. It is typically recommended to DECREASE not eliminate your running volume to start. So don’t be scared to visit your physiotherapist in fear of them telling you to stop altogether. Physiotherapists want to keep you active and the best approach in most cases is to implement injury-specific strategies first with volume reduction to see how you respond. In some extreme cases, if your body isn’t responding to treatment or you have a short timeline, your physiotherapist may ask you to take a few weeks rest to help with the healing process.

If you need support feel free to book an appointment with one of our Royal City Physiotherapists here.


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