Performance Physical Therapist Redding

Running Injuries and Physical Therapy

running injuries

Running is one of the most vigorous endurance activities out there.

While running is great for cardiovascular, mental, and physical health, it can also result in a lot of strain on the body. Working nearly every muscle group and impacting how your body moves, running can be very hard on the body due to the repetitive nature of the sport.

Staying injury-free as a runner is difficult. You might not break a bone as you would in a sport like wrestling, football, or soccer, but injuries can occur from overuse and improper conditioning.

Thankfully, most running injuries are preventable or easily treatable if you catch them early and aren’t stubborn about seeking treatment.

Most Common Running Injuries Physical Therapists Treat

Ramping up mileage too quickly, exhibiting improper running form, not allowing proper recovery time, and more can contribute to running injuries.

There are several common running injuries that are preventable/treatable.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee involves a dull pain around the front of the knee. This is felt most when active or sitting for an extended period of time.

IT Band Syndrome 

IT Band syndrome involves an aching or burning sensation on the outside of the knee, often extending up the thigh and into the hip and lower back as well. This occurs mostly while active or after extended periods of activity.

Shin Splints 

Shin splints often start as pain in the front of your shin area, moving into the inner-facing part of your lower leg. The impact of running worsens this, and this is primarily felt during activity.

Plantar Fasciitis 

Pain resulting from plantar fasciitis begins near or at the bottom of the heel after activity or the following morning. Runners won’t feel this during activity.

Achilles Tendonitis

Ever notice soreness and difficulty lifting your toes after a run or an extended period of training? Achilles tendonitis involves pain in the lower leg just above the heel, causing tightness and a restricted range of motion.

Stress Fracture 

Stress fractures worsen over time, especially with repeated activity. A dull pain or aching might seem like nothing, but feeling that during activity could be a sign of a bigger problem. Usually, in the shin or foot, a stress fracture usually results in bracing of some sort and physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion.

Physical Therapy and Running Injuries 

While each of the most common running injuries involves different steps in physical therapy treatment, injury prevention is a key factor in preventing most running injuries. From strength training and conditioning to proper progression and recovery, physical therapists focus on your specific needs as a runner and what you’re hoping to achieve and avoid.

Injury Prevention

You might think that physical therapists only treat injuries. The truth is that a lot of physical therapy sessions involve developing custom plans to train in your specific activity (such as running) without pain or injury.

Develop a Plan

Physical therapists are trained to help runners with custom training plans regardless of skill level with injury prevention at the forefront.

Consider what it takes to train for a marathon. How will you get in marathon shape without doing harm to your muscles, joints, and the rest of your body?

Work with your physical therapist to develop a safe, structured training plan. Keep progression in mind, as jumping into things too quickly can lead to injury. For example, as a runner you shouldn’t increase your mileage by more than 10% per week.

Choose Between Speed or Distance 

If you’re training for a marathon, you want to be able to go the distance, quite literally. But you also want to complete the marathon in a decent time frame. You have goals in mind for yourself, but physical therapists warn against doubling up your speed and distance simultaneously.

Use a slow progression when it comes to training for any type of run, even if you’re simply a recreational runner. You put yourself at a high risk of injury if you increase both your pace and mileage at the same time.

Take Advantage of Recovery Time 

Sure, consistency is key as a runner or marathoner, but knowing when to take time to rest will help to prevent injury as well.

What you do to recover after a run (especially a hard workout or long run) is just as important as the actual running itself.

Overuse injuries like those mentioned above often occur because of a lack of rest and proper recovery time. Giving your muscles and joints a break is giving your body time to heal. Massage therapy, ice/heat, resistance band exercises, and foam rolling can also be used during recovery time to relieve tension and help relax tight or sore muscles.

Simple things like eating healthy, staying hydrated, and getting adequate sleep are also important as a runner, as your body relies on fuel and rest for both energy and recovery phases.

Lead An Active, Healthy Lifestyle With Active Physical Therapy 

Staying active throughout your entire life is something you enjoy. Making sure you take care of your body so you can do that is key.

Choosing Active Physical Therapy will help you to continue to lead an active and healthy lifestyle through all stages of life.

From physical therapy services like hip, knee, and ankle rehab to prevention and wellness care to keep you feeling good and meeting your goals, we love to help those that are needing support and guidance to get them back to their passions.

Contact us or request an appointment to get started on your health and wellness journey today.


Dr. Christian Mercill DPT

Active Physical Therapy

We Help Active Adults And Athletes in Redding Live An Active & Passionate Life Without Avoiding Activities, Unnecessary Surgery, And Reliance On Pain Medication.