The runners guide to preventing overuse injuries and optimising the running stress-recovery balance

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

It is reported that between 27% and 70% of recreational and competitive distance runners can expect to be injured during any one-year period. The most common site of running injuries is the knee and can often make up to half of all running injuries reported. Runners can also sustain acute injuries, such as ankle sprains, however often most running injuries are as a result of ‘overuse’ and poor periodisation/programming.

Here are some of our best tips to prevent overuse injuries when running:

· Avoiding rapid changes in training intensity, duration and frequency.

· Cross-training (i.e. weightlifting and functional training) to strengthen key muscle groups.

· Utilise proper recovery strategies such as optimal nutrition, hydration, stretching, cryotherapy, massage and sleep.

Book an assessment today with our physiotherapist at Limitless Physiotherapy if you think you may have an overuse injury or if you want to learn more about preventing injuries in running. We can provide individualised education and advice for you, as well as devise an individualised training plan to help you prevent injury and perform better in running.

Finding the optimal stress-recovery balance

The term ‘stress’ is relating to both physical and psychological stressors. Physical stressors include our training load (volume, intensity, frequency and type), other sports, activities of daily living and occupation. Psychological stressors include emotional stress, work and family life, mental health and the cognitive demands of the sport.

It is important to cause sufficient physiological stress on the body in order to drive adaptation and improvement, however too much stress can be harmful and hinder recovery, causing performance impairments and fatigue.

Listening to your body is key to ensure the balance is appropriate for your goals. For example if you notice you have a significant amount of psychological stress, it may be useful to adapt your training schedule accordingly to ensure you have the capacity to recover optimally from the physical stress and demands placed on the body.

If you currently have a high training load and seem to be reaching a plateau in your performance and recovery, or your performance and recovery is declining, it may be beneficial to schedule in a rest day or an active recovery day. An active recovery day may consist of performing some light exercise, such as a walk, swimming, a short cycle, yoga and pilates.

How can we help you?

Here at Limitless Physiotherapy, our physiotherapist can discuss your running training and performance goals, assess your current training programme and formulate an appropriate plan for you to continue progressing your running, whilst remaining injury free.


Hreljac, A. (2005) ethology, prevention and early intervention of overuse injuries in runners: a biomechanical perspective. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics,16 (3): pp. 651-667.

Liebenson, C. Functional Training Handbook.

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