Running injuries


Find our more about how running injuries are treated.

Enquiries & Appointments

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Types of running injuries

Runners can be prone to various kinds of injury because of the biomechanics and repetitive nature of the sport. In particular, people new to running are more likely to pick up injuries.

Common running injuries include:

  • knee problems - such as iliotibial band friction syndrome, runner's knee and patellofemoral (kneecap) pain
  • lower leg problems - such exertional pain, a.k.a. ‘shin splints’
  • groin pain
  • hip pain
  • stress fractures

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Running injuries can present with a variety of symptoms. Runners may experience pain and stiffness first thing in the morning and after training, in conditions affecting tendons (e.g. Achilles and patella tendinopathy).

Iliotibial band friction syndrome is a problem affecting the side of the knees, and runners may experience feeling a well-localised pain that increases in intensity the further they run. Going up and down stairs may be painful after running.

Exertional lower leg pain (a.k.a. ‘shin splints’) may give the runner an uncomfortable shin and calf pain, that feels as though the muscles are very ‘pumped-up’.

Stress fractures, which can occur in pelvis, legs or feet, can present in a confusing way with pain and that comes and goes in an area. It’s often felt more on hopping and is sometimes noticeable at night time.

Your consultant will assess you in detail, and you'll be asked about your symptoms, your current training and past injuries, and you'll be examined carefully. This may include examining how you walk or run, and an assessment of your biomechanics and sometimes strength and balance.

You may be required to undergo an investigation such as MRI scanning (e.g. to detect stress fractures or identify the cause of hip or groin pain). Sometimes the diagnostic testing may include ultrasound scanning (e.g. when assessing Achilles or patella tendon problems).

The treatment of the injury will depend on the particular condition.  Stress fractures may require a period of time to be ‘off-loaded’, using crutches or sometimes a boot to restrict movement. This would be followed by a period of rehabilitation with a physiotherapist or osteopath. 

Tendon over-use injuries typically need a specific loading programme as part of their rehabilitation, and a course of shockwave therapy may be advised.  Iliotibial band friction syndrome may be treated with a corticosteroid injection, followed by rehabilitation.

Exertional lower leg pain (a.k.a. ‘shin splints’) will frequently be treated with physiotherapy or osteopathy.  You may be advised to undergo gait analysis with a sports podiatrist, to assess whether you may need changes made to your footwear, such as different trainers, or orthotics to help movement and force distribution.

Many running injuries occur as a result of strength deficits, poor running style and training errors, and you may be given advice on how to optimise these.  Your clinician may also recommend a referral to a sports dietitian or nutritionist, or a sports psychologist.

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Running injured

Dr Robin Chatterjee, Consultant in Musculoskeletal, Sport & Exercise Medicine at the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health (ISEH) talks about how the popularity of running has also led to a rise in injuries and offers some guidance on a holistic approach to diagnosing and managing a sports injury.

Our Running injuries locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.