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The 6 most common running injuries

Ashley Crossman, Ph.D. is a certified RRCA running coach and ACE personal trainer. She owns her own coaching business, She Runs Strong, and has been the running coach for two charity training teams in Phoenix, Arizona: the MS Rockstars (...

Causes and solutions

There is no one reason why runners get injured, but a pretty consistent interaction of factors plays a role in most runner injuries.

Causes and solutions


Problem: Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common running injuries. The plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone on one end and to the ball of the foot on the other end. When this fascia has been pulled or stretched too hard, it can get inflamed and cause pain, usually on the bottom of the heel — although it may hurt anywhere on the bottom of the foot. Typically, it is most painful when you first get out of bed in the morning or after you have been seated for a long period of time. The pain usually dissipates relatively quickly after you've walked around for a few minutes. If left untreated, however, the pain may start to be present with all activity.

Causes: There are several possible factors involved in the development of plantar fasciitis. These include tight calf muscles, inadequate support from your running shoes, training errors (too many hills, too much speed work in a short amount of time or adding mileage too quickly), and biomechanical factors (excessive pronation or high-arched feet).

Solution: To ease the pain of plantar fasciitis, stretch and massage the calf muscles several times per day. A foam roller is extremely useful for this. Massaging the bottom of the foot with a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball or a golf ball several times per day can also help loosen the fascia and improve blood flow to the area. Simply roll each of your feet back and forth over the ball for five minutes, applying as much pressure as is comfortable. Icing the bottom of your foot two to three times per day for 10 minutes at a time will help the inflammation go down.

You should also examine your running shoes for wear to see if you are due for a new pair. Adjust your training schedule to decrease speed work, hills and overall mileage. A night splint, such as the Strassburg Sock, can also be effective at keeping the calf and Achilles tendon stretched while you sleep, thus reducing the pain when you wake up in the morning. If you pronate excessively or have high arches, orthotics can also help support your feet when you run. Finally, if these home remedies are not helping, you may consider physical therapy.

Back to the running injuries directory

Up next: IT band syndrome >>

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