A Step-By-Step Guide to Runners' Aches and Pains

As runners, we work our bodies hard and are constantly at risk of injuries. Here, we will break down some of the most common aches and pains runners experience, and offer self-care tips.

If the self-care tips are not enough to alleviate your aches and pains, or you have any questions about pain you are feeling, please let us know. Our staff is familiar with many of the common runners injuries and can point you towards treatments or products designed to help, or direct you to a healthcare professional who can better address your needs.


Where it Hurts: Lower calf muscles on the back of the leg

Caution: Reduce mileage or avoid running until pain free

How it Feels: Dull ache, pain, and stiffness; may be more prevalent in the morning

Causes: Constant uphill running; shoes with soft heel counters; shifting from higher-heeled dress shoes to running shoes; aggressive pace (too much, too fast, too long)

Self-Care: R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice massage, Compression (with ace bandages), and Elevation - especially at night, arch supports, calf stretches, modifying activities


Where it Hurts: Bottom of the foot

Caution: Early recognition and treatment is key

How it Feels: Sharp knifelike pain inside the heel; heel pain during first morning steps and at the end of the day

Causes: Prolonged standing; being overweight; differing leg lengths; unsupportive shoes; light calf and Achilles tendon; flexible arch; overpronation

Self-Care: Arch supports, night splints, consistent stretching - especially of the calf muscles


Where it Hurts: Outside of the upper leg and/or the outside of the knee cap

How it Feels: Pain on the outside of the knee or upper leg

Causes: Often associated with running on a track or roads with an incline. Other causes include overuse; supination; high, rigid arches or low, flat arches; overpronation; weak pelvic and buttock muscles; knee misalignment (bowlegged or knock-kneed)

Self-Care: Ice massage; specific ITB stretching; foam roller; varied walking and running routes; reduce mileage and hill work; strengthen pelvic and buttock muscles.


Where it Hurts: A pinched nerve in the foot, most often between the third and fourth toes

How it Feels: Sharp, burning, or throbbing pain in the ball of the foot; tingling in the toes

Causes: Excessive pronation; hereditary predisposition; shoes that are too tight (i.e. high heels); high-impact activity

Self-Care: Ice massage; wear appropriately fitted and supported shoes with broad toe box; take a break from high-impact athletic activity; consider arch supports, foot pads, or orthotics


Where it Hurts: Inner part of the front of the lower leg

Caution: If not treated, shin splints can lead to tibial stress fractures

How it Feels: Pain, soreness, tenderness, mild swelling

Causes: Often occurs when increasing mileage or beginning a training program. Other causes include training too much, too fast, or too long; calf and Achilles heel tightness; unsupportive or worn-out shoes. More common in flat feet, excessive pronators, and flexible feet.

Self-Care: Replace running shoes every 350-500 miles; ice massage; stretching; arch support; running on softer surfaces


Where it Hurts: Joint of the big toe

How it Feels: Painful ache or soreness on outside of the big toe, often with a bulging bump. Big toe may sharply angle in toward other toes. If area becomes red and warm, consult your sports medicine professional.

Causes: Hereditary predisposition; ill-fitting shoes (i.e. high heels)

Self-Care: Select shoes with a wide and deep toe box; avoid high heels; ice for pain and swelling


Where it Hurts: Bottom and/or inner side of the knee cap

How it Feels: Sharp pain while running or jumping, persisting afterward as a dull ache

Causes: Overuse; sudden increases in intensity of physical activity; tight leg muscles; differing leg lengths; overpronation; weakness or imbalance in quadricep muscles, resulting in increased hip motion

Self-Care: Ice massage; avoid pain-causing activity; switch to low-impact activities or softer surfaces (i.e. grass, trails, tracks); strengthen quadricep muscles


Where it Hurts: Usually, where your shoes or socks rub against your skin

Prevention Tips: Make sure your shoes fit properly. Buy socks spcifically made for running. Spread a little petroleum jelly on any problem areas. Put moleskin or athletic tape over "hot spots" prone to blisters

How it Feels: Painful bubbles of skin filled with clear fluid. They can appear anywhere on your foot

Causes: Friction; sweaty feet or wet conditions; wearing shoes that are too small or tied too tight; foot abnormalities such as bunions, heel spurs, and hammertoes

Self-Care: If you already have a blister and it's not painful, just leave it alone. If a blister is paingul, carefully pierce it with a sterilized needle, press the fluid out, apply antiseptic cream, and cover the area with an adhesive bandage or moleskin.

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