Common running injuries and their causes

Traumatic and overuse running injuries

Fed of getting running injuries? Running injuries are commonplace and a source of real frustration to the runner. Running injuries generally fall into two categories: traumatic and overuse injuries. Here's a handy guide on how common running injuries are caused and how they can be prevented.

Common running injuries and their causes

Common running injuries and their causes: The types of running injury

Following the advice on these pages cannot guarantee that you will be injury-free, but it should go some way to help you minimize the chances of getting injured or of the injury occurring again.

The two types of running injury are as follows:

  • A traumatic injury is as a result of an actual occasions such as tripping over a kerb while out run training.
  • An overuse injury occurs as a result of repetitive overload on a tissue. Each run causes trauma on a microscopic scale, which accumulates and leads to injury. A good example of this is any form of lower limb tendonitis.

An overuse injury can be further classified as either ‘intrinsic’ or ‘extrinsic’. Intrinsic factors relate to the individual physical characteristics. An extrinsic injury is caused by an external force. Running injuries are often caused by a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

Common running injuries and their causes: Intrinsic factors

Below are some intrinsic factors that may lead to running injury

  • Muscle imbalance.
  • Lack of flexibility (or, in some cases over-flexibility).
  • Gait abnormalities and misalignment problems, such as overpronation and difference in leg length.
  • Body composition and size 

Common running injuries and their causes: Extrinsic factors

Below are some solutions to extrinsic factors that may lead to running injury:

  • Inappropriate or worn-out running shoes.
    (Solution: trainers should be changed at approx 500 (804.7km) miles.)
  • Too much road running or running the same way on a cambered road repeatedly.
    (Solution: try to go off-road or vary your route frequently.)
  • Training errors; the most common one being increasing mileage too quickly, also not allowing enough rest or recovery between runs.
    (Solution: build up mileage steadily and ensure you have rest days.)
  • Environmental conditions; muscle or tendon injuries can occur in cold weather when there has been insufficient warm-up; heat exhaustion and dehydration can also contribute to injuries.
    (Solution: ensure you wear layers when running in the cold and warm up suffciently. Always keep hydrated.)

So, overall, preventing running injuries involves identifying potential problem areas and doing something about it, where possible.

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