Beat the Seven Body Breakdowns

Prevent and recover from the seven most common running injuries

by Christine Aschwanden

hamstring running injury, common running injury, recover running injury
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2. Hamstring Troubles

Your hammies bend your knees, extend your legs, drive you up hills and power finish-line kicks. In fact, they do pretty much everything except hand you your sports drink, so when they're too tight or weak to perform, you notice it.

Seven per cent of RW survey respondents said their hamstrings have bothered them in the past year.

Counterintuitive as it might seem, very flexible people are prone to hamstring issues because their overly stretched muscles are more vulnerable. If you can barely touch your toes, stop looking smug - you're also at risk.

Sitting for long periods is another risk factor, as is muscle imbalance: many runners' quads overpower their hamstrings, which sets them up for injury.

Can you run through it?
If the pain comes on strong and suddenly, and the area bruises, you may have a pull and need months of rest. If it's a less severe overuse injury, you can usually run - but it'll take time before you're on green again. Running an easy pace is usually less painful than intervals or hill reps. Cycling, aqua running and swimming are alternatives.

Rehab it
Strengthen your hamstrings with single-leg hamstring curls (raise the bar with both legs, then slowly lower it one leg at a time) and single-leg deadlifts (stand on one leg with the other in the air behind you, keep your back straight and reach your hands towards the ground). Merrill recommends using a foam roller to alleviate tightness.

Prevent a relapse
Build with bridges: lie on your back with your feet on an exercise ball. Raise your hips, then lift one leg into the air. Lower your hips back down. Repeat with your other leg. Wearing compression tights post-run can also help by aiding blood flow (Skins Long Compression Tight, £52,

Elite tip
When champion miler David Torrence felt his hamstring tighten, he took the next day off and went to his chiropractor. "I took it easy, iced the hamstring four times daily, and it improved within a week," he says.

Hamstring warning: How to proceed

Stop running
You feel a sharp, sudden pain, especially with a 'snap' or a 'pop'. You have bruising.

Run with caution
Chronic achiness and tightness that forces you to slow your pace and shorten your stride.

Go run!
Pain-free on hills and speedwork - even after long periods of sitting down.

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Discuss this article

Ballet foot exercises work really well for the plantar fasciitis.  They sorted my pain right out.  I have also started doing planks which seem to be helping as well.

Posted: 19/08/2011 at 22:52

They forgot the most obvious and common one. The stomach! Affects 1/3 of runners, if previous articles are to believed, and causes inescapable misery that can strike no matter how fit you are, no matter how much training you've done.

Posted: 23/08/2011 at 20:56

Great article! I have stopped running for just on 7 weeks with plantar fasciitis and am desperate to start running again, but still experiencing pain so not in the ''Go run!'' zone just yet...... Kimberlee, are ballet foot excercises just pointing and straightening your toes??

Posted: 23/08/2011 at 23:58

I have been diagnosed with Runner's Knee.  I'm finding it a long and slow rehab process.  I originally stopped running for a month (after attempting a couple of runs and being in pain throughout).  Since then the knee has got better, but it's still very painful after about 5k.  To the point that I can't actually run much further than this at the moment.

I've been given lots of physio and strengthening exercises to do.  Just feel quite depressed at the moment as nothing seems to be helping.  Maybe I want a quick fix and it's not going to be one.  I am signed up for a half marathon in October and really not sure whether to pull out.

Posted: 25/08/2011 at 12:49

Listen to your body.

If you are training for say a marathon or half marathon where the volume of training will require you to run consistently for maybe five days a week you are bound to feel tired either due to overtraining or general fatigue.

There are certain runners who feel that if they miss even a single training session then their fitness will suffer.

Wearing ill fitting shoes or running when feeling unwell due to a heavy cold or such like can result in muscle injury.

Simply over doing it and not listening to your body can result in injuries.

Check your heartrate regularly and if it's abnormally high think of some other form of excercise or even rest.

The secret to successfull running is to remain injury free and with a little sense and listening to your body injury's are not inevitable


Posted: 11/10/2011 at 16:23

what about back pain? i'm always suffering with it post-run, and have tried backward stretches lying on my tummy, but it hasn't helped. and when i lower my legs for 'that' ab exercise i get a clunking sound... i don't really have the time or inclination to start yoga...
Posted: 08/02/2012 at 11:06

Hey not sure if you still use this, but i have the same thing and feeling the exact same way, how are you getting on? did you manage to get rid of it and run your half marathon?
Posted: 22/04/2012 at 19:32

I'm always amazed by how little sports massage is cited in these articles. It's used by every Premier League football team, every professional rugby team, every top athlete and thousands of amateur sports people. It was part of the medical services team at the 2012 Games (250 therapists!) and at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was in greater demand from athletes than any other therapy------and yet the most common recommendation for soft tissue problems is self applied foam rolling! Yikes! 

Is there any reason your experts seem to largely ignore this key component of soft tissue prehab and rehab? For the record I come from an utterly biased standpoint as Chair of the Sports Massage Association.

Posted: 01/10/2014 at 14:22

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