What are the UK’s most Googled running injuries (and how do you fix them)?

The surge in running during the pandemic has, of course, resulted in a surge in running injuries. Over the past 12 months, how to cure common running injuries have been frequently searched for, such as ‘how to help shin splints‘ (up 600%) and ‘sore knee from running’ (up 400%). So, despite the increase in runners, research by WholyMe, which examined Google Trends over the last 12 months, reveals how many are suffering from painful drawbacks.

The research revealed:

  • Shin splints were found to be the most common running injury over the past 12 months.
  • Sore knees take second place in the biggest boost in searches.
  • Ankle and Achilles issues also saw a surge in search interest. 

In a bid to address some of these common injuries, physiotherapist Richmond Stace and Olympian Ross Murray have joined forces to provide their expert opinions.

The Top 5 Most Popular Running Injury Searches Since The Pandemic Began

  1. How to help shin splints – +600%  
  2. Sore knee from running – +400%
  3. Sore Achilles after running – +250%
  4. Ankle support for running – +250%
  5. Lower back pain after running – +200% 

How to help shin splints

Addressing the 600% increase in searches for ‘how to help shin splints’, Richmond explains: 

“There are many reasons why shin splints occur. Much emphasis is put on biomechanics but this is just one of many potential factors. Only addressing footwear and foot position is like trying to make a cake with just an egg and a bowl.

Take a look at your training routine – is it too intense? Or is there a lack of recovery time? Shin splints can also be caused by the wrong running shoes, a sedentary work life, stress, ill health or even poor sleep. 

The best place to start is with – you guessed it – rest! Consider seeking professional advice to discuss your training, health, lifestyle and other relevant factors. Then the best course of action can be determined as a route back to sustained running and performance.”

Sore Achilles post-run

Offering his advice on the 250% surge in people suffering with a sore Achilles after running, Murray says: 

“[A sore Achilles] usually means you’re overloading the area; this is done by running too much or too hard. Consider cutting back the intensity of your training by 15% until your Achilles doesn’t hurt. Then you can look to increase the intensity on a bi-weekly basis by 5-10%.” 

Ross suggests icing the foot to soothe the Achilles area. “What you need is a bucket that you can fit your foot in… I’d recommend keeping it in there for around 12 minutes”.

Ankle support for running

For those wanting to know how you can support weak ankles when running, Ross’ advice is to strengthen them: “Using ankle supports only masks the issue. Completing 10 to 15-minute foot and ankle circuits three to four times a week is a great way to build strength, improve performance and prevent injuries.”

Richmond agrees, and advises to get to the root of the issue: “If you have weak ankles, you must find out why and address the reason. Typically, this includes training such as balance exercises, calf raises and static/dynamic postures. 

In addition to strengthening the muscles, balance work is essential, especially if you are a trail runner”.

Lower back pain after running

For physiotherapist Richmond, there are “two common reasons for back pain after running: the way you run as a result of how your body moves and having a pre-existing back problem. 

The way your body moves is mainly impacted by lifestyle. If you spend time sitting for work, tightening up from stress, and then take that body into running, there is a greater chance of pain or injury. The question to ask yourself is: what body am I taking on this run? 

Our bodies need regular, daily movement routines that bridge between the sitting time and the running time. As we age, the need becomes greater. 

We also need to pay attention to recovery, including cool downs, stretching and rest time.” 

“There are many ways to move your back to aid recovery and reduce pain, such as yoga and pilates. The key is consistency,” Richmond explains. 

Sore knee from running

Richmond describes runner’s knee as “the pain in the knee associated with running. This can be during or after exercise. If the sensitivity builds, you can find the pain is increasingly noticeable during other activities such as walking, going up to down stairs and sitting. 

If you’re suffering from a sore knee after running, a good recovery programme should include stretching, range-of-movement exercises such as knee circles, and strength training to build up the muscles that support the knee joint. 

Once your knee has started feeling better, you can look at a graded return to running. Again, consistency is vital here, as well as reviewing other lifestyle factors including sleep and stress.” 

Pain-free running

Running shouldn’t be painful. The main takeaway for all injuries is to put a real focus on recovery (before and after a run), stretching, and training intensity. If the pain persists, seek professional help.