40 Best Injury and Health Tips - From The Forum

If you want real-life advice from runners who have found their own ways to overcome running aches and pains, where better to turn than the Runner's World Health and Injury Forum? From lambswool to tennis balls, their solutions reach the parts that conventional medicine sometimes doesn't.

To see a fuller discussion about any of the topics, click 'See full thread'. You can add your comments to any of the discussions, and who knows, maybe your experience will help another runner get back off the couch and out running again.

Finally the serious bit: if in doubt, consult your doctor or sports injury specialist about health and injury concerns. The forums are a super starting point, but they can't replace a personal consultation.

Foot Injuries | Ankle-area | Lower-leg | Hip | Knee | Shoulder | Stitches | Sore Nipples | Osteoarthritis | Piriformis | Swollen hands | Stress Incontinence | Runner's Trots |


Beating blisters

Use blister plasters to speed healing
Evil Pixie - To treat blisters: make sure feet are properly dry; apply blister plasters (Compeed, Scholl, Savlon and Boots all do these); apply tape over plaster and round foot to ensure no movement; top with Vaseline for added security. See full thread

Prevention is better than cure
Scotty H - Before putting on your running shoes, wrap micro-pore surgical tape around the affected toes. This is a good plaster substitute (basically thin, sticky 'hypoallergenic' paper). Cover the surgical tape with Vaseline around the blistered area. I still do this by way of blister prevention on long runs. A good amount of talc between the toes is a bonus as well. See full thread

Toughen up your toes
Northernbaldy - Somebody suggested to me cleaning my feet once a week with surgical spirit to not only toughen them up (to prevent blisters) but also clean away any bacteria that may cause athletes foot. It has worked for me. See full thread

Get rid of the sticky stuff
Chunks - ... and nail varnish remover is very good for removing the sticky residue from plasters... See full thread

Lamb's wool works wonders
Fell Running - Fill your socks full of fresh cut lamb's wool and leave them overnight. By the next morning the natural lanolin will have soaked into the fabric of the sock. Presto! No more blisters. Two drawbacks: first catch your lamb. Second if you own a border collie it'll keep rounding your socks up! See full thread

Laces - pain on bridge of foot

Miss out holes to relieve pressure
Shirl2 - My solution was one I read in Runner's World. Try lacing your shoes differently, ie: lace the bottom two set of holes as normal then miss the next set of holes so there is a gap, and lace the other holes as usual. It really works for me. See full thread Lost toenails

If you lose them, get falsies
Bottleofbolly - I lost my nails from running and a fungal infection - nice! - I couldn't face the summer with stumps so I got my local nail salon to put on acrylic extensions, just like the finger-nail ones. They looked great all summer. See full thread

Buy bigger shoes
Suz - My second toenail is purple and about to fall off from my last pair of running shoes! I have just bought new shoes 1/2 size bigger and have had no problems as yet. It's too late to save that toenail though. See full thread

Pain under feet

Cotton wool protects sore spots...
Sheila Anne - I've suffered from pain in the balls of my feet for years and invented my own panacea to fix it. I flatten a cotton wool ball and tape it under the painful area, then I can run marathons with no pain at all. See full thread

... and can relieve toe pain
Yentz boogman - Numb feet can be caused by Morton's Neuroma, where the nerves in between the toes get pinched. Putting a pad under the insole of my shoe under the ball of my foot - effectively raising the centre of the ball of the foot and spreading the toes slightly - works for me. See full thread

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Stretch your calves
Shell-m - A podiatrist today and was told my PF was caused by an extremely tight "gastocnemius" muscle and that stretching was all I needed to do. After six weeks I'm up 'n' running again! The calf stretches have worked - if I do them religiously it prevents the pain sneaking up on me again. So all you PF sufferers out there - don't give up like I nearly did. Just seek good advice and be patient. See full thread

Massage is good for your sole
Slaphead - I had quite a bad case of PF; I took ibuprofen, which helped, but the thing that really helped was a foot massager. It was just a piece of wood shaped like a rolling pin but with grooves cut into it, it's easy to use and you can even use it whilst watching the telly. See full thread

Achilles Tendinitis (AT)

It doesn't mean you have to stop running
Woody 6 - I refused to stop running, so my physio recommended:

  • massaging both the Achilles and the calf muscle;
  • acupuncture - I was sceptical, but it really helps stimulate blood flow to the area;
  • heat and cold - and definitely after each run - 10 minutes each; stretching - vital
  • ultra-sound with freeze gel - seems to help relax the area.
It enabled me to carry on training for the Flora London Marathon. See full thread

Check your heel tab isn't too high
Sam Bean - I am currently recovering from AT due to a change of shoe brand. After getting into the marathon, I was advised to by a new pair of shoes. After 25 miles in them, the AT struck. Looking carefully at my new and my old trainers, I could tell that the heel tab was slightly higher and more tendon 'hugging' (or rather pinching) in the new ones. Needless to say I have reverted back to the old ones, rested for two weeks (no running), iced, ibupofen and physio, I think I am on the mend. See full thread

If it is, snip it
Blott's Mate - Running shoes that are higher at the back are linked to Achilles tendinitis - I was advised to cut the back off my new trainers. I slit the back of my old ones, which did help, although I can't bring myself to mutilate my new ones. See full thread



Insoles really work
Hubcap - Consider Sorbothane insoles - since using them I haven't had a problem. I also hose down by legs with cold water after running to reduce inflammation, which seems to help. See full thread

Put your feet up
Jeff Wilson - I suffered when I started running, but it was cured almost immediately when I got fixed up with some 'real' shoes. Sitting with your legs elevated in the evenings reduces blood flow to damaged/injured areas apparently, and that works for me too. See full thread

Run on grass
Shattered Shins - Don't underestimate the value of grass - as I did for several months. When someone said they'd run with me on grass - just to overcome my prejudice, I think - I couldn't believe how much softer it was! See full thread

Calf pain

Go for long socks, a la Radcliffe
Anthony Pleasance - Try socks designed to prevent deep vein thrombosis - they help circulation. Paula Radcliffe wears similar ones. Also, quinine tablets are apparently good for relieving (night) cramps. I've tried them before long runs, and the combination of socks and tablet seems to help. See full thread


Keep on moving
Velociraptor - Running shouldn't make osteoarthritis worse, although osteoarthritis can sometimes make running difficult. Many of us would, if x-rayed, be found to have osteoarthritic changes in our knees, necks, or lower backs, and are better off not knowing. Having a previous serious injury to the joint speeds up the process.

The worst thing for osteoarthritis is to become sedentary - weight gain and loss of muscle strength put far more stress on the affected joint. It's far better to take a painkiller, if necessary, and keep moving. See full thread

Patellar tendinitis

Strap it in place
Rob Jones - I wear my patella strap EVERY time I run. It helped with patellar tendinitis almost immediately. This, with stretching, completely cured the problem.

They are comfortable to wear and only cost a tenner so you have nothing really to lose by trying it. The point of the strap is to help with the patella's tracking. See full thread

Choosing the right shoes to avoid knee pain

Don't compromise on shoe choice
Velociraptor - When you buy a pair of shoes don't let the staff hurry you. Try on every single pair in the shop if you need to, and have a little run around in them all too. Don't part with a penny for a shoe that doesn't feel right from the outset. I like to do my first few runs in new shoes on the treadmill so that they don't get muddy, and I can return them in good-as-new condition if problems arise. See full thread

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

Get a sports massage
Cep - I'd say sports massage is essential to recovery. It will hurt (a lot!) but is worth it. Get a recommendation, maybe through your club. And, though it's boring, try to build up your running again really gradually. I found that strengthening my quads at the gym helped too. See full thread

Find out if the cause is flat feet
Gumby - If ITB problems persist, it probably means the cause is due to other factors - bow legs, collapsed arches etc. To fix my ITBS I had to get orthotics. Very often upper leg and knee injuries can be traced to what are broadly called 'flat feet'. My advice: see a podiatrist. See full thread

Beware of road camber
Swerve - If you run on the road, its camber is very important. My right knee was always worst, so running on the right hand side of a crowned road was way preferable to running on the left. See full thread

Hip pain

Bedside Stretch
Johnnybike - I'm pleased to report that I can see the end of my hip problems and I am back to running again.

The main exercise which I did that seemed to work was this: lie on your good side on the edge of the bed and move your underneath leg (the good one) back at 90 degrees (less in reality). Swing the bad leg/hip over the side of the bed, letting the weight stretch my hip muscles. I still have a bit of soreness in the hip area but it is manageable and getting easier all the time. See full thread

Piriformis (buttock) pain

Sit on a tennis ball
Nessie - My chiropractor loosened the core of the muscle by leaning all his weight on his elbow on the area, and moving it around. At first I thought he just didn't like me, but eventually (after about three sessions) I could feel a difference.

You can produce a similar effect by sitting the sore area on a tennis ball and gradually rolling it around the buttock. Just as painful as the elbow, but at £1.50 for three tennis balls compared to £25/half hour for the chiro, much less painful on the wallet. See full thread

The invisible chair stretch
Bune - One of the stretches I do is to cross one leg across the knee whilst standing, and then slowly squat down using the standing leg - this seems to stretch the top of the hamstring and buttocks. It's like sitting on an invisible chair with one leg crossed, if that makes it more clear! See full thread

Sore nipples

Mother knows best
Cat in the Hat - If I get sore I put Fuller's Earth on them - as recommended by my wife, who used it when she was breast-feeding. See full thread

Tape them up
Michael Stiff - Surgical tape works for me. One reel, at about £3, should last all year. If I put it on an hour or more before I run it seems to stick more. See full thread

Ask the pharamcist
Kevin Richards - I'm a pharmacist and also run a bit. There's a product that is only usually supplied on prescription, but you can buy it in pharmacies if you ask the pharmacist. It's called TEGADERM, and it's like a sticky piece of cling film you can cut it to size and stick on you nipples. It's pretty cheap and stays on for days after. I've just run my first marathon, and it worked a treat. See full thread

Shoulder pain

Unclench your fists
WildWill- I find that shoulder pain is normally caused through being too tense - the trick is to try to relax more when running. You can try carrying two small bits of broom stick whilst running - hold them loosely in your hands this will help you to relax your muscles. See full thread

Getting rid of a stitch

Breath out hard
Winkle - When I taught myself to swim properly and I found that the breathing technique actually helped with my running. Swimming requires you to take a large amount of air in a relatively short amount of time AND to expel it explosively into the water before the next intake. This emptying is what I find myself doing on runs, and I have never ever had stitch since no matter what I have eaten or drunk beforehand. You could try a really big heavy out-breath with pursed lips maybe every few minutes. See full thread

Strengthen your abs
Lowgrade - I used to get stitches, but since following the advice of a fell runner and doing 20 stomach crunches (sit-ups) every day I haven't had one in 10 years. See full thread

Swollen hands

Cool hand runner
Sheila Anne - I only get swollen hands when running in really hot weather, never in winter. My fingers swell and my hands get really hot. I handle it by carrying a sponge and taking advantage of any running water I pass: streams, fountains, garden hoses, etc. Keeping my hands cooler seems to help reduce the swelling and tightness in my fingers. See full thread

Wave your hands in the air like you don't care
Jo - My hands get swollen and look mottled white and blue - I'm sure it's a circulation thing. Every few miles I run with my hands in the air, wiggling my fingers for a bit. Looks stupid I know, but so what...

Runner's trots and diarrhoea

Low fibre is sometimes best
Belfast Phil - Wait longer after eating; and eat less fibre in your pre-run nutrition, and less acidic stuff like spices and fruit juices and that sort of thing: try cereal and toast (like Frosties and white toast with jam) before the run - it's neutral and nutritious.

Try aloe juice
Sassie - I suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. When my attacks really threaten to take over, I use aloe juice (any health store). It takes some getting used to, because it tastes foul, and it sometimes makes things worse before they get better, but they do get better.

Chemical intervention is sometimes the only way
Ratcatcher - After months of playing around with my diet and eating habits to resolve runner's trots, I realised I was never going to without chemical intervention. I now take two Lomotil two hours before each run and am fine. I have been doing it for about 15 years without any noticeable side affects. See full thread

Cut out the morning OJ
Nick Jordan - I went through a spell where I was having terrible trouble with my guts. I did a bit of research and found out that too much fructose could be the culprit. I used to have a large bottle of orange juice first thing every morning, then snack on raisins, and would suffer on my lunchtime run. I cut both out and that solved the problem. See full thread

Do a pre-run run
Whizzy - I am afraid I think it is something we just have to live with! I find the best thing is to go for a mile run, pop back home, then off out again and usually no problem after that. I take Immodium for races and sometimes if I am out with a group to save embarrassment, have tried all sorts of changes to diet, but no luck. See full thread

Fennel seeds do the trick
Sam Panther - I am eating half a teaspoon of roasted fennel seeds with a meal. You have to buy fennel seeds and roast them yourself though. See full thread

Check your toothpaste
Donalda Bint - I went to a clinic where they test for food intolerances - glucose, fructose and so on. It turned out that I have sorbitol intolerance. This occurs in some fruits with stones or pips in them, but also - and here was the breakthrough - toothpaste. The combination of brushing my teeth and eating fruit was pushing me over my tolerance level. It's also found in diet drinks, diabetic products and chewing gum. All the problems I had had just disappeared. See full thread

Stress incontinence

Go de-caff
Kathy Simmons - One thing that really helped me was cutting out caffeine completely for a while. I do now have some caffeinated drinks and so far the leaking problem hasn't returned - thank goodness.

Also, I think sex can sometimes exacerbate things - but I guess most of us wouldn't want to cut that out! See full thread

Disguise it, or just s*d it
Stickless - I have three approaches depending on time and temper: shorts which don't show it, or else tip my water bottle all over, or think "I haven't noticed so why should you". Then I avoid close quarters until I've showered or at least changed. Run Happy. See full thread

Secret support
Tig - Try using a tampon whilst running. It was advice given to me by a physio after pelvic floor exercises didn't seem to be working. Apparently it works by supporting the uterus muscles (that have become weakened after giving birth to two large babies!) and so supports the bladder too. See full thread

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