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Common Running Injuries

Published: February 26, 2020

Running offers numerous health benefits and is accessible to anyone with a good pair of sneakers. The intense euphoric feeling that most of us experience after a run is what keeps us motivated to continue running. Yet, running is a strenuous, repetitive activity that is hard on the body. The best way to keep on going injury free is to train properly, eat right, and keep the body in balance and alignment. Prevention is the best medicine.

Running Facts:

  • Running is a repetitive motion sport that requires your body to undergo wear and tear at a much higher rate than non-weight bearing sports or everyday activities.
  • The foot contains 25% of the bones in the body, and the menisci bear 45% of your weight, the medial meniscus of the knee carrying the most.
  • Running requires that each leg and its composite muscles, joints, and ligaments withstand a force equal to seven to ten times more than that of walking.
  • This repetitive action can contribute to increased wear and tear and/or musculoskeletal injury. Properly fitted shoes, musculoskeletal and joint alignment, and nutritional support can minimize these issues.

There are four phases involved in the running stride:

  1. Impact – heel strike
  2. Compression – midstance and pronation
  3. Power – propulsion
  4. Float. – neither foot is on the ground

If you happen to be 10 pounds overweight and you run, it would be as if you were carrying 30-40 pounds of extra weight on your frame. This is one reason why so many 5’6”, 120-pound genetically gifted runners are so successful and tend to stay so injury free. Less impact, near perfect biomechanics and less compression means fewer injuries.

Due to the forward running motion, various muscle groups tend to overdevelop. The calf muscles develop more than the anterior shin muscles; the quadriceps muscles develop more than the hamstrings and the lower back muscles tend to develop more than the abdominal muscles. Eventually the most used muscles become overdeveloped in relationship to the least used muscles. As a result, various running related overuse syndromes can occur. The following list represents the most common problems that occur from the knees to the lower back:


1. Inner Knee Pain—The most common painful condition among runners is inner knee pain. It has many causes but a very common one develops from a condition called overpronation wherein the foot over pronates causing the knee to twist and irritate the tendons.

2. Outer Knee Pain—The second most common knee pain that runners suffer from is outer knee pain. Most commonly it is also caused by an overpronation condition when the twisting knee stresses the outer tendons of the knee.

3. Patellar Tendon Pain—Much like a lever and a fulcrum, when the quadriceps muscle contracts, the patellar tendon is placed under tremendous stress. Foot over- pronates and causes the tibia to twist, this changes the pulling angle on the patella which creates irritation in the joint between the patella and femur.

4. IT Band Syndrome—The IT band is the iliotibial band structure on the outer upper leg that travels from the outer ilium to the outer knee. IT band syndrome is fairly common in runners due to the over stretching of the IT band when the foot over pronates and the tibia twists.

5. Piriformis syndrome—is an overuse syndrome of the piriformis muscle that occurs when the femur bone internally rotates excessively during gait. This is often due to over-pronation.

6. Lower Back Pain—Causes are weak abdominals, tight lower back and hams, leg length discrepancy, rotational misalignment of the lumbar vertebra, muscle imbalance, etc.

Most runners have a leg-length discrepancy. It may have developed from running facing traffic on angled highways or sidewalks or from running counter-clockwise on tracks. The leg-length difference may also be pre-existing with causes related to over-pronation causing a pelvic torsion and an ‘apparent’ leg length inequality. Chiropractic adjustments, specific exercises, and custom orthotics can help correct leg-length discrepancies.

Your running shoes can tell you a lot. When you look at the wear pattern, the outer heal should be slightly worn and the centre of the forefoot should be slightly worn. Any deviation from that signifies the need for a prescription orthotics with modifications that address those imbalances.

Runners stand to benefit the most from chiropractic because of the gruelling nature of the sport and it’s potentially detrimental effects on the joints of the foot, knees, and hips. Just like tires can wear out quickly on a poorly aligned front end, the human body breaks down when it’s out of alignment. When this happens, it is called degenerative arthritis and can become permanent without care.


The average marathon runner will take over 21,000 steps to complete a race. With each driving stride, a vibration with a force of three times the athletes’ body weight will shock the runner. It is no wonder the world’s elite runners seek doctors of chiropractic as part of their training. By gently realigning the bones, prescribing specific exercises and nutrition, and fitting for custom orthotics when necessary, chiropractors minimize down time and help them perform at their peak.


Running is the easiest and most popular ways to stay fit. It is also one of the easiest ways to develop an injury. The best ways to avoid running injuries is to prevent them. The following list represents the best ways to prevent an injury:


    Stretch – learn a basic stretch routine and follow it before and after a run

    Wear proper footwear and replace shoes as needed

    Cross train and work out the opposing muscle groups to prevent overuse syndrome

    Avoid overtraining and build your mileage gradually

    Keep your body in proper alignment through regular Chiropractic care