How to avoid injuries when taking up running seriously

Running may be a great way to maintain good health, but it's hard on the joints, especially the knees. Here are some tips for avoiding injury by Mr Ashutosh Acharya, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon 

Most of the injuries are the result of training errors

As spring is finally on doorstep most of us are planning to put that New Years resolution into action and get fit, loose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Running and cycling is increasing in popularity and park runs are gathering momentum.(1) Unfortunately as with any sport, injuries can happen with running. Many of these can be easily avoided by taking adequate precautions. Knee pain, tendinitis, “runner’s knee”, stress fracture, shin splints are a few conditions best prevented!

So how do we take care to avoid the pain?

First step would be to look at shoes! Appropriate running shoes in good condition can maximise comfort and reduce risk of overuse injuries. Depending on the arches in the feet and gait examination, specialist shops can advise on the right shoes for each individual. People with high arches have rigid feet and are prone to stress fractures.  These individuals benefit from more cushioning and shock absorption.  People with flat feet or low arches are more prone to sprains and soft tissue injuries. These would benefit by having more supportive type motion control shoes. It is important to check for any signs of wear and damage to the shoes and consider changing a pair after 350-550 miles of use.

Most of the injuries are the result of training errors.(2),(3) Disaster can strike when enthusiasts train too often, too hard, too soon and too much after injury. The danger period when injuries are common is either too early in the running programme (first few months) or returning back from an injury. Sudden change in mileage, inadequate rest between sessions and drastic increase in speed can be painful. It is best to avoid sudden increase in the distance or speed. As a rule of thumb, it is better to avoid more than 10% increase in distance per week.

When taking up running for the first time, it is best to stick to flat, smooth and soft surface like running trail. It is better to avoid hard surfaces such as concrete or road. Hills can place large demands on knees and ankles.

Stretching and warm up exercises are usuallyan integral part of any sport. We are good at paying attention to achilis (calf) and hamstrings but it mostly stops there! It is important to ensure that your hip, back and pelvis have good flexibility and that warm up exercises include stretching these areas.

For serious runners and triathletes general conditioning and strength training is equally important. This involves off-season workout to build strength and maintenances during season. Core strengthening exercises and weight training can help to build strength and improve balance while running.

In the case of minor injury rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication and maintaining flexibility will help reduce pain and inflammation. Cross training can help maintain fitness and muscle strength whilst avoiding further overuse. Gradual return to running is main goal. In case of severe pain, swelling, inability to weight bear immediate medial help should be sought.

Running is excellent exercise to keep fit. Injuries due to running are not as severe as some other sport, but can be chronic. The majority of injuries are due to avoidable training errors. A simple but well planned training schedule will help you to enjoy the fresh air and a pain free spring and summer in the countryside!

To make an appointment with Mr Ashutosh Acharya, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon please call 01925 215 029 or complete the enquiry form on the right hand side of this page


1.    Great North Run [Internet]. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2015 [cited 2015 Apr 12]. Available from:

2.    Renström AF. Mechanism, diagnosis, and treatment of running injuries. Instr Course Lect. 1993;42:225–34.

3.    Lysholm J, Wiklander J. Injuries in runners. Am J Sports Med. 1987 Apr;15(2):168–71.

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