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  • Writer's pictureBalmain Physiotherapy

Returning to Running: Navigating Common Pitfalls

a man running in the city

Running, with its myriad physical and mental benefits, is a popular form of exercise. However, returning to running after a period of inactivity or injury requires a cautious approach to prevent common injuries associated with this high-impact activity. The team at Sydney Allied Health explores essential strategies for injury prevention when resuming running and sheds light on some of the most prevalent injuries runners may encounter. One of the primary keys to injury prevention in returning to running is a gradual and systematic loading progression. Many running-related injuries occur when individuals attempt to do too much, too soon. It is essential to ease back into running, starting with shorter distances and slower paces. The body needs time to readjust to the impact and stress of running, allowing muscles, tendons, and ligaments to adapt gradually. A well-structured training plan that incorporates incremental increases in distance and intensity is vital for preventing overuse injuries.


Common Injuries in Running:

Understanding the common injuries associated with running is crucial for effective prevention. Some of the most prevalent injuries include: 1. Shin Splints Often caused by overuse or increasing in load, shin splints result in pain along the inner edge of the shinbone. Running on hard surfaces, wearing improper footwear, or suddenly increasing training intensity are common contributors.


2. Runner's Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) This condition involves pain around the kneecap and is often attributed to improper running mechanics, muscular imbalances, or overuse. Gradual progression, proper form, and strengthening exercises can help prevent runner's knee.


3. IT Band Syndrome The iliotibial (IT) band, a thick band of connective tissue, can become irritated and inflamed, causing pain on the outer side of the knee. Running on uneven surfaces or neglecting proper stretching can contribute to IT band syndrome.


4. Plantar Fasciitis This painful condition involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot. Improper footwear, tight calf muscles, and sudden increases in mileage can contribute to plantar fasciitis.


5. Achilles pathologies Overuse and increasing in load  may lead to inflammation of the Achilles tendon, resulting in pain and stiffness in the back of the heel.


a man stretching on the ground

Preventive Measures:

To minimise the risk of these common running injuries, various preventive measures should be incorporated into the return-to-running plan:


1. Specific individualised footwear: Investing in appropriate running shoes that provide proper support and cushioning is crucial. Consulting with a podiatrist or physiotherapist to determine the right shoe for your foot type and running style can significantly reduce the risk of foot and leg injuries.


2. Stretching and Strengthening: Dynamic stretching before running and strengthening exercises, particularly focusing on the core, hips, and lower limbs, contribute to overall stability and injury prevention.


3. Cross-Training: Integrating cross-training activities, such as swimming, cycling, or strength training, can help maintain cardiovascular fitness without subjecting the body to constant impact. This reduces the risk of overuse injuries associated with repetitive running motions.


4. Listen to Your Body: Paying attention to pain, discomfort, or signs of fatigue is crucial. Ignoring these signals can lead to overuse injuries. Adequate rest and recovery should be prioritised, especially during the initial stages of returning to running.


5. Professional Guidance: Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals can provide valuable insights into running mechanics, form correction, and personalised training plans. Regular check-ups can identify potential issues and ensure a safe return to running allowing for you to hit your running goals.


Returning to running requires a thoughtful and patient approach to prevent common injuries associated with this physically demanding activity. Gradual progression, understanding common injuries, investing in proper footwear, incorporating stretching and strengthening exercises, engaging in cross-training, and listening to the body are essential components of a comprehensive injury prevention strategy. By adopting these measures, individuals can enjoy the many benefits of running while minimising the risk of setbacks and injuries. Remember, the journey back to running should be a steady and enjoyable process, prioritising long-term health and well-being. If you are a runner or looking to start running we encourage you to book in for a Running Assessment with one of our physiotherapist's either Jamie McCrorie or Scott Lim. To do so please call us on 1300 16 16 88 and request a Running Assessment.


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