Runners Injuries & Niggles

Beginners Tips

When you first start running your body will protest at using muscles in your legs, shoulders, arms and diaphragm that are not used to the extra work. It is very important not to do too much too soon.

You should also be aware of connective tissue - tendons that attach muscle to bone and ligaments that hold your bones/joints together. The connective tissue around hips, legs and feet may be the first to start "grumbling" and you should look after these areas by using compression socks, tubigrip or as a minimum, by applying "Deep Heat" to warm them up before running. You may need some help in choosing or modifying shoes to correct pronation in one or both feet - ask one of the club's more experience runners to check your running style.

Running Hills

  • Know a hills coming up? Take deep breaths one or two minutes before the base of the hill
  • Shorten your stride AND keep your breathing synchronised with your increase leg cadence (rhythm)
  • On steep hills, drive your arms harder
  • Lean into the hill from your ankles, not from the hip
  • Look forwards rather than down at your feet

Shin Splints

New runners often suffer from Shin Splints - this term generally refers to pain felt in the lower leg tissue that connects the muscle to the shin bone (Tibia)


The pain is a symptom seen by many new to running or those that train excessively. Generally, this is caused by biomechanical irregularities that pull at the connective tissue making it sore or tender. Clearly, those new to running have weaker tendons / muscles and as they progressively strengthen, Shin Splints are less like to occur.


RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation Rest is the main treatment - the application of ICE or gel pack to help reduce inflammation - Apply a COMPRESSION bandage - ELEVATE the leg.

In the early stages, it good to have your running technique checked by one of the clubs seasoned runners. Both Pronation or Supination can be a contributory factor - the right shoe or an orthotic may be all you need.

Many swear by compression socks and strapping up lower leg will help contain the trauma on the muscle tissue.

Painkillers: These will help reduce inflammation but do not take them to mask the pain during running - this will only make it worse.

If the pain is really bad you should rest it for a week or two at least and then start gentle training - If you have the right shoes and/or wear compression socks, you may not even experience the problem again. However, an underlying non-correctable biomechanical problem may cause the problem to recur or even cause permanent damage. If you're not sure, ask your GP or a sports injury specialist.

"Running through" an injury as a beginner is not a good idea - more experienced athletes do this to great effect but only after many years of knowing their bodies.

As is usual with running injuries - let your body do the talking - pain is the bodies way of telling you to stop.

Runners Stitch

Stitch is generally a muscle spasm associated with the diaphragm, the muscle that assists in breathing and its connective tissue. The spasm can occur in either the muscle or the ligaments and the primary symptom is typically a sharp pain on their right side, immediately below the ribs.

When we inhale, to "pull" air into the lungs the diaphragm moves down. Conversely, when we exhale the diaphragm moves up and we "push" air out of the lungs. Like other muscle cramps or spasms, diaphragm spasms or stitches are thought to occur from the strain and fatigue associated with the increased workload of the diaphragm during accelerated breathing from exercise.

Runners new to running often get stitch as more is asked of their diaphragm than normal.

Stitch is may also be cause by not breathing correctly - synchronise you breathing with your leg cadence eg. Breathout forcefully every other time your right (or left) foot hits the ground.

The good news is that most muscle spasms are thought to be associated with muscle fatigue and as your fitness level and overall conditioning improves, the risk of stitch decreases.

If you get stitch slow your pace immediately, take deep breaths and within a minute or two the pain should subside.

Helping Endurance

A spoonful of Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Powder) in a glass of water (or squash) an hour before running helps boost endurance by helping to neutralise lactic acid and Hydrogen ion build up in the leg muscles.

Runners Injuries & Niggles

General Advice - Treat the Niggle to Avoid the Injury

Every runner gets niggles but the smart ones don't carry long term injuries - there is a reason for this.

What is a niggle?

"Something that causes you to wince and maybe slow down but not stop; does not stop me from exercise; can still run, but can feel it; doesn't impact on my running form; may be uncomfortable but not painful; a low-grade injury that doesn't really warrant seeing the physio for." What is an injury? "Is painful, limits my ability to run normally and may also cause pain post-exercise; more acute and prevents exercise; causes me to stop; makes you run with different form to normal."

Cold Therapy- Also known as Cryotherapy- Ice should be applied for the first 3 days following any type of acute injury such as a knee sprain, post surgery, or any type of swelling. Ice works to reduce inflammation around the area of injury. An ice pack can also work to numb the area of pain, creating an analgesic effect. Heat Therapy- Also known as moist heat- Heat should be used for chronic conditions such as muscle discomfort, stiffness. Applying heat to an area effectively opens up the blood vessels allowing blood to flow freely to the affected area. This increases circulation, delivering an increased supply of oxygen and nutrients and removing waste from sore, fatigued and injured muscles. Using a Hot Pack can be especially useful on a muscle spasm.

For Your Kitbag



Used by athletes for decades - Tubigrip is an elasticated tubular bandage that provides firm but comfortable support for sprains, strains and weak joints. It is fairly low in cost and can be cut to length to suit thighs, knees or ankles. Also useful for holding an ice or cold gel pack in place.

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  • Keep calm - listen to some music beforehand - Relax and don't let anxiety get a hold - it's just like a training run but with a number on your chest.
  • Hydrate the day before - drink water, fruit juice, squash or lucozade (NOT Alcohol see Dehydration at the bottom) until your pee runs clear - try and have your last big meal at midday
  • Get a good nights sleep
  • Don't drink too much before the few hours before a race or you'll be queuing for a loo
  • and pass valuable fluid
  • Drink a bottle of water (add an electrolyte tablet) 5 mins before - this won't have time to get to your bladder but will help maintain your hydration once your warm up miles are completed.
  • Chaffing - ladies and gents have different problems - tights or shorts with mini tights are ideal but failing that Vaseline the top inside of legs and anywhere you might get chaffing. Gents should apply to nipples or apply corn pads.
  • DON'T be tempted to follow the hares at the start - this will certainly be your undoing.
  • Breakfast (2-3 hours before the start) - porridge with sugar - Cashews or Macadamia nuts for energy - if you're lucky enough to own a NutriBullet or Ninja make a nice smoothy with yoghurt, bananas, orange juice and cashews (even throw in a Dextrose tablet for luck) .
  • Energy during the race - if you've tapered correctly you will have enough glycogen stored in your muscles and liver to take you round - however, this is not an exacting science. Any intake will take up to 30 mins to get into the blood stream - so if you feel the need or just want to make sure, best to take in extra energy at the half way point / water station at Oake. Gels are messy and I would recommend Dextrose Tablets (Boots have them - nice and small and they dissolve quickly) - either way, these will take time to have effect (most likely after a couple of miles)
  • Unlike the stamina required to run a marathon, a half is more about your fitness level - over the past few weeks you should have got fit enough - so it's all about a comfortable pace - if you feel great at the 10 mile mark you can always pick up the pace. I'm often reminded of the psychology of running the distance before hand but if you're fit enough that's not so important.
  • If you start to suffer - slow right down (but keep a jogging motion - this ensures the running muscles are flushed out with fresh blood - walk and you may find it difficult to get going again) and keep breathing deeply until your body normalises then proceed with caution (this could take several minutes) - make sure you hydrate just before the race start.
  • Don't run on your own - run with a buddy or find one during the race that is running at your comfortable pace - you will help them and they will help you.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic. This means it encourages the body to lose more water than it takes on by halting the production of the body's anti-diuretic hormone. This means you feel the need to pee excessively, thus speeding up the loss of fluid from the body that leads to dehydration.
  • One final thing - a couple of spoonfuls of baking powder in a glass of water (with breakfast) will help neutralise the build up of Lactic Acid & negative hydrogen ions in the muscles if you should run a little too fast at stages during the race. (old trick)