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The most common injuries during running

Each year, more than 50% of runners face injuries or pain. Whether due to poor physical fitness, poor biomechanics, or overtraining, the body is repeatedly challenged during running and can lead to various trauma or injuries. Here are the 4 most commonly encountered injuries.


1. Plantar Fasciopathy

Plantar fasciopathy, commonly known as plantar fasciitis, is an irritation of the fascia beneath the foot. It is a strip of solid fabric supporting the foot and connecting it to the toes. It plays an essential role in the support of the foot by controlling the pronation of the foot (sinking of the foot inwards), acting as a passive thruster and absorbing forces when we walk, run and so on.

In case of excessive stress in this membrane, irritation occurs and leads to pain in the heel and arch of the foot. This burning sensation is usually worse in the morning and can hinder the race during warm up or one to two hours after training. A biomechanical fault, an excessive pronation of the foot, would be the main cause of these symptoms during running. Plantar fasciitis occurs more often in long-distance runners or when wearing old shoes with low foot support. The presence of flat feet or high arched feet can also predispose runners to this type of problem due to the additional stress that it causes on the fascia. Management of this condition at the onset of symptoms is essential because it can quickly become chronic and greatly affect the practice of sports activities.


2. Shin splints

Shin splints occur in the presence of pain inside the tibia (1/3 inside the leg). It is a persistent dull pain lasting 3 to 4 days after exercise and tends to reappear when resuming physical activities. The appearance of this pathology is explained by the presence of tension and constant stress in the leg leading to inflammation of the tendons of the muscles attaching to the tibia.

More specifically, this occurs because of an overload on the posterior leg muscle chain, either due to an increase in the volume and intensity of the run or a change of the running surface or shoes. This tends to create excessive and repeated tension on the leg causing irritation to the shin. Neglect of these symptoms and the pursuit of the race can lead people to stop all sporting activities for long periods of time due to unbearable pain that can cause.


3. Tibial band syndrome

The tibial band syndrome is very common among marathoners. It is recognized by severe burns on the lateral side of the knee. These pains are exacerbated during and after the activity and the knee may even be sensitive following prolonged sitting. This syndrome is due to the presence of a large friction of the large fascia (the ilio-tibial band) on the femoral prominence of the femur (lateral epicondyle). The ilio-tibial band is a strip of tissue that extends along the outer thigh from the hip to the knee.

During flexion and extension of the knee, the strip moves over the lateral epicondyle of the femur in a back and forth motion. Thus, when the stress caused by the repeated movements of flexion and extension of the knee exceeds the tolerance of this tissue, pains occur and can affect the physical performance. Overtraining, running on sloping surfaces and lack of warm-up are the main causes leading to the tibial band syndrome.


4. Tendonitis of the Achilles tendon

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon of the human body, but unfortunately it is also the tendon most often injured in runners and more frequently in men between 30 and 50 years. The Achilles tendon connects the calf to the heel and has the role of storing energy for the propulsion of the foot. Tendonitis of the Achilles tendon is manifested by a sharp pain in the tendon. It is mostly present in the morning and appears gradually at the beginning or end of an effort. The tendon may also be tender and thick.

The increase in training, a biomechanical fault of running and a deficient muscular control are among the predisposing factors. Runners who do a lot of sprints and run on slopes are also at higher risk. When pain persists for several weeks in the Achilles tendon, more fragile scar tissue is formed and leads to more chronic pain, hence the importance of consulting as soon as symptoms appear.


In short, whether you are running for weight loss, competition or simply for fun, the risk of injury remains, so it is very important to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with these conditions to prevent chronic pain and a limitation in physical performance. Thus, as soon as pain or limitations occur, do not hesitate to consult your physiotherapist or any other health professional. Refer also to our next article on the prevention and treatment of these injuries.


By Florence Arscott-Gauvin, physiotherapist at Physiotherapie Universelle Pointe-Claire clinic

References :
  • Dubois, Blaise, B.SC. Les blessures fréquentes en course à pieds, La clinique du coureur, 2017
  • Gervais-Hupé, Jonathan, Pht, FMAPT cert. physio sport. Les blessures en course à pied, Traumatologie sportive, Université de Montréal, 2016
  • Saint-Amour, Marie Claude, Pht, FMAPT  Dip. physio sport. Blessures Traumatiques, Traumatologie sportive, Université de Montréal, 2016