Common Runner’s Injuries

knee-injuryI have vast experience as a runner, and have been treating runners for almost 30 years. Runners can have a wide assortment of injuries; many of these can require physical therapy to recover from. I am going to review some of the more common injuries that runners can develop, how to recognize them, and what you should do to treat them.

The first and probably the most common runner’s injury would be Shin Splints. I have often felt this is a garbage can term for pain along the anterior shin. Shin Splints can be several different injuries, including Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. It is characterized by pain on the inner edge of the tibia or anterior tibialis tendon. It can become inflamed from the pounding the lower half of the body takes with the act of running, running on hard surfaces or poor arch support and control. This is often treated with rest, icing, and putting an arch support in your shoes. I would recommend going to a knowledgeable running store and making sure your running shoes are appropriate for your foot type.

Another common running injury is Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). This can develop from increasing mileage too quickly, changing surfaces from a soft one to a hard one, and worn out shoes. ITBS is caused by the Iliotibial band (ITB) and friction where it crosses the knee. The ITB rubs on the lateral surface of the knee with running; it can become inflamed causing pain over your lateral knee. Typically it only hurts when you are running, and for a period of time after your run. Normal daily activities rarely cause pain. Recommended treatment would be ice, stretches to your ITB, massage and rest.


Lastly Patellofemoral Stress Syndrome (PFSS) is yet another common issue runner’s deal with. This is caused by tight muscles (Hamstring, Quadriceps, ITB) causing the knee cap (Patella) to track laterally which causes inflammation of the cartilage under the patella. This injury typically hurts with running, sitting for long periods like a long car ride or going to the movies (called movie goers sign). When running it is typically a sharp pain, yet when sitting it can be more like a deep ache in the knee. Treatment for this is ice, stretching exercises to hamstrings, Quadriceps, ITB, and calves. And when pain and inflammation improve quadriceps strengthening exercises will help as well.

Now I have touched upon a few the many injuries that occur with runners. A good rule of thumb if you can’t run pain free in 7-10 days, it is time to get in to your Physical Therapist for treatment. We can get you back on the roads and pain free.

By Bradon Griffith PTA, ATC, CSCS







Bradon ran competitively in high school and NCAA Division 1 Cross Country and Track and Field at Northeastern University in Boston MA

Andrew Vertson