I can remember running my first half marathon 9 years ago and I definitely feel like my body today is different than it was when I first engaged in this sport.  Over time, I got busier with my career and running around as a mom. I just can’t simply spend the time training as I used to. The repetitive stress of running during most of adulthood has led to overuse injuries.  Let me share the some of these injuries to look out for especially if you are an avid runner or athlete. I’ve experienced at least three of them!

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band Syndrome)

This condition which caused sharp pain around the outside of my knee was the first injury I ever sustained after my first half marathon.  There is swelling or thickening of the iliotibial band which is aggravated as the band moves over the femur. Sometimes runners will experience a sharp sensation above the knee or on the outside of the knee. I personally experienced pain along the length of the entire band on the outside thigh as it attaches to the tibia (one of the two bones in the lower leg or shin bone).  At first, pain may not be felt during the running or aerobic activity, but it may intensify as the foot strikes the ground and can be exacerbated with running up and down stairs or hills.  Often athletes can develop this from inadequate warm up or cool down periods.


                -abnormalities in the arches of the foot

                -uneven leg lengths

                – excessive force when feet hits ground during exercise

                – tightness of the iliotibial band

                -weak hip abductor muscles

Diagnosis is made by through history and physical exam findings such as pointed tenderness where the iliotibial band rubs over the thigh bone.  

Treatment Options

RICE (Rest, Ice, Elevate Compression) is recommended to reduce inflammation and pain quickly.

Adequate stretching or physical therapy can be beneficial for recovery.  You have to stop the activity inducing the pain which sometimes may take up to 6 weeks or longer to allow healing.

 Stay tuned for my favorite exercises and yoga poses on IG story to help stretch and strengthen the IT band.

Patellofemoral  Pain Syndrome or “Runner’s Knee

This injury can cause a dull achy sensation in the front of the knee where the kneecap or patella sits.  The pain is exacerbated with running, sitting for prolonged periods, going up and down stairs or kneeling and squatting.  Repetitive stress, injury, surgical repair to the ACL ligament or misalignment of the knee cap can be causes for this condition which is seen more in young adults and females.

In patellar tendonitis or “jumper’s knee”, the tendon connecting the knee cap (patella) to the shin bone which helps with knee extension is affected. Pain in the knee area can be felt as the physical activity begins or at the end of the workout.  Tight quadriceps and hamstrings can cause strain on the patellae.

Shin Splints- Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

I know that many of you have heard of this injury which can occur in runners and dancers especially during intense training.  There is pain along the tibia or shin bone of the lower leg.  The runner may note some marked tenderness along the inner part of the shin bone and lower leg and sometimes there might be swelling.  The surrounding muscles and tendons are being stressed especially if you increase duration, frequency or intensity of running regimen. Rest, ice and wearing proper footwear may help with the pain initially. Sometimes the injury can persist and progress to a stress fracture.

Try running on more even surfaces like a reservoir or dirt path instead of concrete! It may be time to see if you have flat feet or high arches and change up those sneakers. Stores like The Running Store or Jack Rabbit may do a running/foot analysis for you.

Achilles Tendonitis

This injury involves the Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body which connects the calf muscles onto the calcaneus or heel bone.   You use this tendon to help run, jump, walk and elevate yourself on your toes. When the tendon is damaged, irritated or loses its elasticity,  it can cause discomfort or pain in the heel area.  This tendonitis is usually seen in tennis and basketball players as well as runners who increase the intensity and duration of workouts. If you work out sporadically only on the weekends because of time constraints, the tendon can be more prone to injury from tightness!  In severe cases, prolonged tendonitis can cause the tendon to tear and rupture, requiring surgical repair.

Male gender, age, and obesity are risk factors for Achilles tendon problems.  Women with high blood pressure and people with psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis are also at risk for Achilles tendonitis

Male gender, age, and obesity are risk factors for Achilles tendon problems. Women with high blood pressure and people with psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis are also at risk for Achilles tendonitis


Runners, try not to run in worn out shoes and find sneakers that have adequate arch support and cushion for the heel area! 

Stretch daily and warm up slowly!

Limit frequent hill running if possible!

Metatarsal Stress Fracture

Every time you run, the long bones in the feet (metatarsals) endure stress from the impact of hitting the ground.  The greatest impact usually occurs around the second and third metatarsals when the feet push off the ground while running. Rest allows the bone to repair.  As we age, the ability of the bone to heal may take longer in between exercise sessions especially as the running regimen intensifies.  A stress fracture can ultimately develop with repetitive stress injury. 

 In non-athletes, a stress fracture can develop with sudden increase in activity or even excessive walking.  

Individuals may experience pain that occurs with normal daily activities and relieved with rest. Swelling on the top of the foot or possible bruising can also be seen. 

An X-ray or MRI may be ordered for diagnosis.  There might be tenderness to touch at the stress fracture site on physical exam.  In older patients, a bone density test (DEXA) may be ordered to assess bone quality and strength.

Time away from running or the sport may help heal the fracture or sometimes a boot may be prescribed by an orthopedist to help protect the bone.   

Gluteal Strain or “Pulled muscle”

There are three Gluteus muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus which are all important in helping the hip with straightening during walking, changing directions while running and stabilizing the pelvis.  

This injury occurs when the muscle in the gluteal muscle is stretched or torn. Individuals may feel an acute pulling sensation in the buttocks. Pain is felt when excessive strain is placed in the gluteal area with accelerated running up a hill, performing an intense maneuver like jumping or skating or weight lifting.  Even contracting the buttocks muscles can cause discomfort.

Other symptoms include weakness and muscle spasm which can increase in intensity when the affected gluteal muscle is touched or when a gluteal stretch is executed.  Rest and physiotherapy (soft tissue massage, stretches, ultrasound, ice/heat) are crucial in the healing process.

Remember, with most running injuries, you can try RICE first!!

I currently have a gluteal strain while engaging in my half marathon training.  Adequate rest and more stretching time is mandatory!  I will also incorporate more cross training activities such as cycling and swimming for the remainder of my training to limit the repetitive stress of these joints, tendons and muscles.   Try and avoid these injuries if you can.

Happy Safe Running!

Disclaimer:  This blog contains my personal opinion based on personal and clinical experience, tips from trainers, health coaches and lastly research.  This blog does not endorse specific treatments, procedures, products.  You should always consult with a doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to discuss your own health and lifestyle goals and regimen based on your medical history.  Thank you for reading!