Beat the Seven Body Breakdowns

Prevent and recover from the seven most common running injuries

by Christine Aschwanden

running injury, achilles tendinitis
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3. Achilles Tendinits

Your achilles tendon connects the two major calf muscles to the back of the heel. Under too much stress, it tightens and becomes irritated. Tendinitis accounts for 11 per cent of all running injuries; eight per cent of RW survey respondents have had it in the past year.

Are you at risk?
If you've dramatically intensified your training, have tight, weak calves or have been imperfectly dipped in the waters of invincibility, you're vulnerable.

Can you run through it?
Forget the classic PE teacher's mantra. "If you have any pain during or after running, stop," says sports podiatrist Amol Saxena. Catch minor strains early and a few days off can heal them; keep running and it could take six months to clear.

Rehab it
Ice five times a day and strengthen your calves with eccentric heel drops: stand with the balls of your feet on a step. Raise up on both feet, then take your strong foot off the step. Lower on your injured foot, dropping your heel below the step. Raise, and put your other foot back on the step. Do 20 reps.

Prevent a relapse
Strong calves protect your achilles, so do those heel drops daily. Avoid aggressive calf stretching, and wearing flip-flops and high-heeled shoes.

Elite tip
Shannon Rowbury, 1500m bronze medallist at the 2009 World Championships, wears compression socks for hard workouts to relieve achilles tightness (X-Socks Energizer Compression Socks, £17.50,

Ankle alert: How to proceed

Stop running
Severe pain and swelling above your heel - even when you're not running.

Run with caution
Severe pain and swelling above your heel - even when you're
not running.

Go run!
No pain when you pinch the tendon, starting at the heel and working your way up towards your calf.

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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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