Take the Pain Out of Running

A beautiful day for a early Spring Run in Lakes Park, Fort Myers! 🌴❤️ Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II.

You hit the ground running.


Running five times a week.

You’re feeling good and setting new personal bests along the way.

Then it happens …

After a few weeks, you start to notice that little niggle has developed into an ache in your shin, or a stabbing pain in your knee or burning at the back of your heel.

It’s upsetting, even common, but it can be fixed.

When diagnosing this pain, it’s important to acknowledging that you aren’t in pain because you’re running, it’s how you are running.  

When starting any new activity, you should gradually ease into it. Every structure within your body has a specific capacity to resist stress and load.

When too much stress is applied without enough time for your body to adapt, pain will occur. As running is essentially repeating the same movement over and over, thousands of times, runners are particularly susceptible to pain.

In fact, evidence indicates that a whopping 40-50% of runners experience an injury every year directly related to overuse!

To prevent pain from overload, try training smarter rather than harder:

  • Try a walk-to-run program: This is an excellent option if you haven’t run very much in the past. For example, alternate walking and running in between mailboxes.
  • Use the 10% rule: Increase the distance you’re running by 10% each week to avoid overload.
  • Have rest days: Control accumulative load built up by multiple runs. A rest day is also a convenient time to check how you’re feeling and identify any latent pain from your previous run.
  • Cross train: Using different activities to stay active will disperse the load across many more structures within your body, and in different ways. Ideas include; walking, cycling, swimming or bodyweight strength training.
  • Warm-up and down: This helps to prepare your body for activity to improve function and prevent sudden shock to the structures. Warming down will reduce the chance of delayed soreness.
  • Listen to your body: Stop If you feel pain! Continuing to do the same thing that aggravates pain will make it worse, last longer and ultimately delay the time until you can run again.

If you have eased into exercise slowly, done everything by the book and still have pain, overload may not be the only cause. In general, there are two types of risk factors that contribute to pain:  

  • Extrinsic factors originate outside of the body, e.g. training errors, environmental conditions and equipment.
  • Intrinsic factors originate within the body, e.g. anatomy, biomechanics, age, gender.  

Research has shown a clear correlation between a person’s movement patterns, strength, flexibility and running injuries.

The good news is that most of these factors can be modified, and therefore, we can effectively address them and get you back to running.

Treatment methods to treat or even prevent running pain include:

  • biomechanical analysis,
  • stretching,
  • movement pattern training,
  • specific strength and control exercises,
  • orthotics, and
  • training and conditioning recommendations.  

So, whether you’re looking to complete your first 5k or run a marathon personal best, the finish line is still in sight.

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist and Tony Robbins Results Coach from Fort Myers. She also is a Corrective Biomechanics Specialist, USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification, and a PhD in results!

Contact her, or find out more about her monthly online program, at: www.GearedUP.biz!


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