How to achieve injury free running?


It’s nearly time for the Bournemouth Festival of Running which means it’s a busy time for me. As a Physiotherapist I’m helping people recover from injury or niggles as quickly as possible to allow them to actually get to the event and achieve their goal. As a Pilates Instructor I’m keeping people strong mentally and physically to allow them to keep their training going, remain injury free and improve their performance. 

So what’s the most common problems I see with runners?

Plantar Fasciopathy 

This presents as pain in the arch of your foot. It’s commonly caused by tight calf muscles and inappropriate footwear. Often people experience this at this time of year as they wear flat shoes such as flip flops which then over stretches the structures on the underside of the foot. Simple things to help this are calf and foot stretches, strengthening exercises and massaging the sole of your foot with a golf ball or iced bottle of water. Addressing your footwear is key. Trying to avoid flat shoes and also making sure you’re wearing appropriate trainers for your foot biomechanics.   

Achilles Tendinopathy

This presents as pain in the tendon leading from the heel bone up to the calf muscle. Again this can be caused by tight calf muscles and inappropriate footwear but one of the main reasons for this being caused is overloading the tendon due to training error. Addressing footwear, stretching and a carefully guided progressive strengthening can all help with this condition.  

Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy 

This occurs at the origin of the hamstring muscles just underneath the buttock area on your sit bones. It can be as a result of weakness in your core and gluts, low back and pelvic problems  and is often made worse by running up hill and sprinting. A progressive loading of the tendon is key to helping it heal. Hands on physiotherapy techniques and taping can also help and there is some evidence for shock wave therapy. 

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

This presents as a sharp pain on the outside of the knee and can be debilitating to runners. It occurs due to a friction of the ITB tendon over the bone. It is mainly caused by gluts and core weakness and faulty biomechanics and running technique. Strengthening your core and gluts will significantly help as well as releasing through the structures at the side of your leg with a foam roller, taping and addressing footwear and running gait pattern. 

My top tips for running injury free 

  1. Gradually increase your distance. It is recommended to increase by 10% each week.

  2. Purchase appropriate trainers. It’s worth getting a professional foot analysis

  3. Keep your core and gluts strong. Weakness in these areas can cause all of these common running injuries. Pilates addresses these areas and can help massively with reducing injuries and help with recovery.

  4. Mix up your training. Sprint/interval sessions can be a great way to improve fitness.

  5. Incorporate some strength and conditioning exercises each week such as squats and single leg bridging.

  6. Get your running gait pattern analysed. At the Harbour Hospital we provide a video gait analysis service which can make all the difference to reducing injury and improving your performance

  7. Reduce your running stride length to keep underneath your base of support

  8. Increase your stride width to give yourself a more stable base of support which means less work for your muscles.

  9. Allow time for recovery

  10. Don’t suffer in silence – seek professional advice if you’ve tried simple measures and they have not helped.

After competing in Denmark for GB Age Group Duathlon I’m looking forward to taking part in another race at the Bournemouth Festival of Running and look forward to seeing you all there, strong and injury free! 

Jason Rubino