The Most Common Running Pain Causes

It happens to the best of us. One day you are running along and the next day you’re suddenly struggling. Whether it is hip, hamstring, knee or calf pain, being sidelined with an injury is no fun at all. Some common ailments are good to know about so you can hopefully avoid getting yourself in a situation where you lose a lot of training time. Here are some basic things you should know about running pain causes.

Knee Pain

Runner’s knee is one common cause of knee pain. You get this pain under your kneecap when you run that feels worse during and post-run. It also may hurt when on stairs. This can be caused by your patella not being properly aligned. You can try to ice it to reduce inflammation. In addition to that, taking a few rest days and/or reducing mileage might help. An anti-inflammatory might also help you, so give that a try.


If you have pain when running just under your kneecap you might have patellar tendonitis. They actually sell a strap that helps many people run through that pain. Again, ice and anti-inflammatory medication could help you also.

Pain outside of your knee can often mean IT band syndrome. Short for iliotibial band, it’s a muscle that runs from your hip to your knee where it crosses your knee joint. The funny thing about a bad IT band is you can usually keep running without causing further damage. Some people purchase shoes to control their motion while running.

Hamstring Pain

When it hurts behind the back of your leg under the glutes, you have hamstring issues. Big muscles can equal big problems for runners. Hamstring muscles usually cause problems because they are either too long or too short, and weak. You can head off hamstring issues by strengthening your muscles with weight training.

While some people try to tough through hamstring issues, it is usually not advisable. Sadly, hamstring issues can take weeks, even months, to heal. You can rehab your bad hamstring with physical therapy, strengthen it with weights and dynamic stretches, and prevent further injury by marrying yourself to a lifetime of keeping your hams healthy and happy.

Plantar Fasciitis

Many runners get foot problems which are not a shock. Caused by small tears or inflammation in the foot, plantar fasciitis is a terrible running ailment that can linger for months. Running through plantar fasciitis is a huge no-no as it will worsen the problem. Some runners do continue running but that typically ends badly because of the great pain after running.

Plantar Fasciitis

Rolling your foot over golf balls or a frozen water bottle can help alleviate foot pain. There are many stretches that can be done for prevention. Some athletes end up trying a multitude of different things before finding relief.

Shin Splints

Every runner’s nightmare, shin splints often result from overuse. Small tears in the muscles around your shins cause a terrible shooting pain with each footfall. Shin splints need rest, along with ice and ibuprofen. You should not run through this pain. Rather, give it a few days of rest at the first onset of pain.

There are some great stretches for the shins that a quick google search will net you. Some people tape the shins after a few days rest so they can continue to run. Just be mindful and aware of your pain.

If you start to notice shin pain while running that can be an indication that your shoes are old and need replacing. Track mileage to help prevent this.


achilles tendonitis

The tendon that runs behind your lower from the lower calf to the ankle area, the Achilles can be a real pain if it ends up sore and inflamed. If you don’t take care of an Achilles problem, it can end up rupturing. Common symptoms of an Achilles issue are: swelling, a dull or sharp pain, a warm feeling and/or limited range of motion.


Running pain from a sprain can happen, especially in an ankle or knee. Trail runners are especially vulnerable to these types of common running injuries as they experience varying terrain and can accidentally step on a rock, stick or into a hole. Sprains are usually best treated by a little rest and sometimes physical therapy.

Stress Fractures

Stress Fractures and running pain

Sometimes runners pound too much pavement too quickly and they end up with a stress fracture. A tiny crack in the bone, stress fractures can add up to big trouble if left untreated. Often in the foot somewhere, stress fractures can be treated with a stabilizing shoe or boot.

The pain of a stress fracture will get much worse with activity and improve with rest.

Small Problems That Add Up

There are other small injuries that runners can face, but that you can often avoid. As the old adage says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Some common injuries and possible prevention tips are as follows:

Blisters can happen to runners if they don’t wear proper socks or shoes. In addition to that, blisters can occur when running without some type of lubricant. Rubbing a product like body glide on your feet, wearing quality socks, and finding shoes that fit properly can help prevent blisters.

Some runners lose toenails, and that is often seen as a right of passage for distance runners. If you keep your toenails neatly trimmed and wear shoes that fit properly you may be able to avoid this pain.

Chafe is caused by rubbing which leads to skin irritation. This can be your body rubbing another body part (such as your thighs rubbing against each other) or your clothing (such as your bra strap). This is another instance where an athletic lubricant can help prevent pain.

Sunburn is another problem athletes can experience. This is why we should always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Especially if you are distance training!

If you run long enough you are bound to experience some type of running pain or injury. Even the best attempts at prevention can be unsuccessful. However, if you do prepare yourself, use proper equipment and pay attention to your body, you have the potential to avoid some big problems. Take it from someone who can speak from experience. It is no fun to be sidelined!

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