Understanding the Unique Risk Factors and 5 Prevention Strategies for Running Injuries

Running Injuries in Women: Unique Risk Factors and 5 Prevention Strategies

Running is an excellent way to stay fit, healthy, and active. However, like any physical activity, running comes with its risks of injury. While both men and women are susceptible to running injuries, there are certain unique risk factors that women face. In this blog post, we will explore these risk factors and provide some prevention strategies to help female runners stay injury-free.

Unique Risk Factors for Women

1.) Hormonal Changes

Women experience hormonal fluctuations throughout their menstrual cycle, which can affect their body’s response to exercise. During the luteal phase, which is the second half of the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone levels increase, leading to a decrease in muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination. This hormonal shift can increase the risk of running injuries.

2.) Pelvic Structure

Women have a wider pelvis than men, which can affect their running gait and increase the risk of injuries. The wider hips can lead to a more significant hip drop, causing an uneven distribution of weight on the legs, leading to potential injuries such as iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) or patellofemoral pain syndrome.

3.) Breast Size

Breast size can also contribute to running injuries in women. Large breasts can cause discomfort and pain, leading to poor running posture and form. This can lead to back pain, shoulder pain, and even knee pain.

Prevention Strategies for Women

1.) Strength Training

Strength training is an essential part of any runner’s training program, but it’s especially important for women. Strength training helps to improve muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination, which can reduce the risk of injuries. Exercises that focus on the hips, glutes, and core muscles are particularly beneficial for women to address the unique risk factors they face.

2.) Proper Footwear

Wearing the right running shoes can go a long way in preventing injuries. Women should look for shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning, based on their foot type and running gait. They should also consider purchasing a sports bra that provides adequate support and reduces breast movement during running.

3.) Pay Attention to Your Menstrual Cycle

As mentioned earlier, hormonal changes can affect a woman’s risk of running injuries. Women should pay attention to their menstrual cycle and adjust their training accordingly. During the luteal phase, when estrogen and progesterone levels are high, women should focus on lower-impact activities and reduce the intensity of their running workouts.

4.) Proper Warm-Up and Cool-Down

A proper warm-up and cool-down routine can help prevent injuries by preparing the body for exercise and allowing it to recover properly. Women should incorporate dynamic stretches before their workouts and static stretches after their workouts to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries.

5.) Gradual Progression

One of the most common causes of running injuries is doing too much too soon. Women should gradually increase their mileage and intensity over time to allow their body to adapt to the demands of running. It’s also important to listen to the body and rest when needed to prevent overuse injuries.

Marathon Training Recovery Series courtesy of Axis Therapy & Performance (Read the caption)

From diagnosis to recovery: How physiotherapy can treat running injuries

While prevention is always the best approach, sometimes injuries can still happen. When it comes to running injuries, a physiotherapist can play an essential role in diagnosing and treating the injury, as well as helping the runner recover and prevent future injuries.

Here are some of the ways that a physiotherapist can help with running injuries:

1.) Diagnosis and Assessment

When a runner presents with an injury, the first step is to determine the cause and extent of the injury. A physiotherapist will perform a thorough assessment, including a physical examination and possibly imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs, to identify the underlying issue.

2.) Treatment

Once the diagnosis has been made, the physiotherapist will create a treatment plan tailored to the runner’s specific injury and needs. Treatment may include manual therapy techniques such as massage or joint mobilization, as well as exercises to improve flexibility, strength, and balance.

3.) Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is an essential part of recovering from a running injury. A physiotherapist can create a rehabilitation program that includes exercises to help the runner regain strength and flexibility in the injured area. The physiotherapist can also provide guidance on when it’s safe to return to running and how to gradually increase the intensity and duration of their workouts.

4.) Injury Prevention

In addition to treating injuries, a physiotherapist can also help prevent future injuries. By identifying any areas of weakness or imbalance in the runner’s body, the physiotherapist can create a plan to address these issues and reduce the risk of future injuries. This may include exercises to improve strength and flexibility in specific areas, as well as advice on proper running form and footwear.

5.) Education and Advice

A physiotherapist can also provide education and advice on how to manage and prevent running injuries. This may include advice on nutrition, hydration, and rest, as well as tips on how to properly warm up and cool down before and after running. The physiotherapist can also provide guidance on how to gradually increase mileage and intensity, and when to seek treatment if an injury does occur.

In summary, a physiotherapist can play a critical role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of running injuries. By working with a physiotherapist, runners can receive personalized care and support to help them recover from injuries, prevent future injuries, and achieve their running goals safely and effectively.

Knee injury courtesy of Axis Therapy & Performance (Read the caption)


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a variety of exercises that can help with recovery from running, depending on the specific injury or issue. For example, if you have a knee injury, exercises that strengthen the muscles around the knee, such as squats or lunges, may be helpful. If you have tight hips or hamstrings, stretching exercises such as yoga or Pilates may be beneficial. A physiotherapist can help create a personalized exercise plan to target your specific needs and aid in your recovery.

The length of time it takes for running pains to go away depends on the type and severity of the injury or issue. Minor muscle soreness or stiffness may resolve in a day or two with rest and stretching. More serious injuries such as stress fractures or ligament tears can take several weeks or months to fully heal. It’s important to seek medical attention if pain persists or worsens, and to follow the recommended treatment plan to avoid further injury or complications.

Running through pain can often make an injury worse and delay recovery time. It’s important to listen to your body and take a break if you experience pain or discomfort while running. Rest, ice, and taking a break from running can help reduce inflammation and allow your body to heal. It’s also important to address the underlying issue causing the pain, such as poor running form or overtraining, to prevent future injuries. If pain persists or worsens, it’s important to seek medical attention to properly diagnose and treat the issue.

About Carolyn Tsang

Not just your average Acupuncturist or RMT! Carolyn is a health and wellness enthusiast trained in the art and science of Traditional Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Carolyn is fueled by a constant hunger for learning new techniques and approaches to incorporate into her practice. Her passion lies in developing treatments that encourage your body to heal itself. To this end she has pursued additional training in Cupping Therapy, Fascial Stretch Therapy and Functional Range Conditioning, and continues to expand her practice with advanced training in Neurofunctional/Sports Acupuncture.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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