Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, offering numerous health benefits from improved cardiovascular health to stress relief. We love seeing our patients running on Bayshore! However, running also comes with its own set of risks, particularly to the foot and ankle. Understanding common running injuries and how to prevent them can help keep you on the path to a healthy and injury-free running routine.

Common Running Injuries

1. Plantar Fasciitis

   – Description: This condition involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot and connecting your heel bone to your toes.

   – Symptoms: Patients often complain of sharp pain in the heel, which is especially noticeable with the first steps in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Many of our runners who experience plantar fasciitis also report pain that develops sometime in the middle of their run. Severe cases can prevent runners from completing their route, or keep them from running altogether.

   – Prevention: Stretch your calves and Achilles tendon regularly, especially upon waking in the morning, and before and after exercise. Incorporate calf and lower leg strengthening exercises into your running routine. For individuals with a flatter foot type, wear supportive, stiff-soled shoes, and avoid running on hard surfaces. Patients with a higher arched foot should seek out shoes that provide shock absorption. Custom orthotics are great for all foot types and can be used for running!

2. Achilles Tendinitis

   – Description: An overuse injury causing inflammation of the Achilles tendon, usually at the back of the heel where the calf muscle connects to your heel bone.

   – Symptoms: Patients complain of pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon, often worse in the morning and with activity. The pain is typically localized at the back of the heel, but can radiate up the back of the leg. There may be swelling that accompanies the pain. Pain can be severe and prevent a runner from training.

   – Prevention: Incorporate calf-strengthening exercises, increase running intensity gradually, and ensure your running shoes provide adequate heel support.

3. Stress Fractures

   – Description: Tiny cracks in the bones, often occurring in the tibia and metatarsals, caused by repetitive force or overuse. This repetitive force we call microtrauma. These injuries often come on subtly, without any history of major injury. These tend to be more common in patients with big foot deformities, such as bunions, or patients who increase the intensity of their run too fast.

   – Symptoms: Patients will notice the gradual onset of pain that worsens with weight-bearing activity in the affected bone. Pain will decrease with rest. There may be swelling, redness, and bruising that overlies the area. Patients may not be able to tolerate standing or walking on their feet once this develops.

   – Prevention: Gradually increase running mileage and ensure shoes are not worn out. If you suffer from bunions or hammertoes, consider custom orthotics. Maintain a balanced diet with adequate calcium and vitamin D. Cross-training with other sports and activities is also a great way to reduce the repetitive impact from running.

4. Ankle Sprains

   – Description: Stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support the ankle, often caused by an awkward landing or twisting motion. This can happen if a runner steps off of a curb suddenly, or if they are running on uneven surfaces.

   – Symptoms: Many patients will report hearing or feeling a “pop” after an ankle sprain injury. Swelling, bruising, and pain around the ankle will then develop. The swelling and bruising worsens when bearing weight.

   – Prevention: Strengthen your ankle muscles, practice balance exercises, and always run on even surfaces. Always get your ankle checked out after a sprain because ankle fractures are frequently misdiagnosed as sprains!

5. Shin Splints

   – Description: Also called Anterior Tibial Stress syndrome, this is felt as pain along the inner edge of the shinbone, often due to increased activity or a sudden change in running surfaces.

   – Symptoms: Shin splints present with tenderness, soreness, or pain along the inner side of the shinbone. The pain is worse with activity, but does not immediately subside with rest. There is often associated mild swelling and redness.

   – Prevention: Wear proper footwear and ensure shoes are not worn out. Avoid running on hard or uneven surfaces when possible. When you must change your running terrain, slowly increase mileage. Gradually increase your running intensity.

Prevention Tips

1. Wear the Right Shoes

   – Ensure your running shoes fit well and provide appropriate support for your foot type and running style. If you haven’t had your feet measured in a few years, it is time to see your podiatrists for a fitting! Your feet can continue to change in size as you age. Replace your running shoes regularly to avoid worn-out soles and lack of support and/or shock absorption. Each shoe will be rated for a certain amount of mileage. In general, once you’ve run to the recommended mileage, it is time to start looking for a replacement.

2. Warm-Up and Cool Down

   – Always start your runs with a dynamic warm-up to prepare your muscles. Incorporate high knees, leg kicks, and lunges before you get going. Calf raises can function as a dynamic warm-up for the calf muscles. At the end of your run, don’t just hop into your car and drive away. Be sure to allocate enough time to end with a cool-down to help prevent stiffness and injury.

3. Strength Training

   – Incorporate exercises that strengthen your lower extremities, including your foot and ankle muscles. We like to encourage our patients to pick up an object with their toes and then release it for multiple sets to strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles. Stronger muscles can better support your joints and absorb impact.

4. Flexibility Exercises

   – We love Pilates and yoga as an adjunct exercise to running! These exercises will not only stretch the lower extremities, but also place an emphasis on core stability which can prevent overuse injuries. Regular stretching of your calves, Achilles tendon, and plantar fascia can improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries.

5. Gradual Progression

   – If you’ve previously been a runner and want to get back into it, avoid sudden increases in running distance or intensity. This can be challenging for folks who are already regularly active. Follow the 10% rule: increase your mileage by no more than 10% per week.

6. Listen to Your Body

   – Pay attention to any pain or discomfort and do not ignore it. Pain felt during or after a run is not normal, and should be evaluated to prevent the need for time off from the sport. Rest and seek professional advice if necessary.

When to See a Podiatrist

If you experience persistent pain, swelling, or any symptoms that do not improve with rest and home care, it’s important to see one of our trusted podiatrists! They can provide a thorough assessment, accurate diagnosis, and tailored treatment plan to get you back on track. We know how important running is to overall health, and we don’t want to keep you out of the race!


While running is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks to your foot and ankle. By taking preventive measures and listening to your body, you can enjoy the benefits of running while minimizing the risk of injury. Stay proactive, stay healthy, and keep running!

For more personalized advice and treatment options, don’t hesitate to contact our clinic. Our team of experienced podiatrists is here to help you achieve your running goals safely and effectively.

Happy running!

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