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Running injuries and associated risks

running happy

Running is one of the most common forms of physical activity undertaken, and with good reason as it provides a multitude of health benefits. Running has been linked with improving mental health, reducing risk of chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes), along with improving physical and cardiovascular fitness (Hafer et al., 2016; Neal et al., 2016).

The benefits of running definitely outweigh the negatives, however statistics show that injuries are a common occurrence. The reported incidence of running injuries ranges between 19.4% to 79.3% (Hafer et al., 2016; van Gent et al., 2007). Figure-1 highlights the areas of the body with the highest incidence of running injuries. Unsurprisingly, majority of injuries occur in the lower limbs, with the knee as the most common region.

running injury statistics
Figure-1. Incidence of running injuries in the lower limb.

Common running injuries include:

  • Patellofemoral pain syndrome,

  • Plantar fasciopathy (also known as plantar fasciitis),

  • Tendinopathies (including Achilles, hamstring, gluteal),

  • Iliotibial band syndrome,

  • Medial tibial stress syndrome (commonly known as shin splints),

  • Exertional lower limb pain.

These are only the most common, however other injuries can occur during running (Barton et al., 2016; van Gent et al., 2007).

Reported risk factors for running injuries vary between studies, however a number of them have been displayed in the table below (see figure-2).

running injury risks
Figure-2. Running injury risk factors.

Rehabilitation and injury prevention for running injuries should be multifactorial, including consideration of the running load, biomechanics, muscle strength/control, footwear, and running technique (Barton et al., 2016). Individuals currently suffering from a running related injury, or those with multiple risk factors as identified above, should consider assessment and potential treatment/injury prevention strategies.

Ky Wynne, DPT, APAM, BExSci


  1. Barton, C. J., Bonanno, D. R., Carr, J., Neal, B. S., Malliaras, P., Franklyn-Miller, A., & Menz, H. B. (2016). Running retraining to treat lower limb injuries: a mixed-methods study of current evidence synthesised with expert opinion. British journal of sports medicine, 50(9), 513-526.

  2. Hafer, J. F., Freedman Silvernail, J., Hillstrom, H. J., & Boyer, K. A. (2016). Changes in coordination and its variability with an increase in running cadence. Journal of sports sciences, 34(15), 1388-1395.

  3. Neal, B. S., Barton, C. J., Gallie, R., O’Halloran, P., & Morrissey, D. (2016). Runners with patellofemoral pain have altered biomechanics which targeted interventions can modify: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gait & posture, 45, 69-82.

  4. van Gent, B. R., Siem, D. D., van Middelkoop, M., van Os, T. A., Bierma-Zeinstra, S. S., & Koes, B. B. (2007). Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. British journal of sports medicine.

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