Common leg injuries of long-distance runners: anatomical and biomechanical approach

Sports Health. 2012 Nov;4(6):485-95. doi: 10.1177/1941738112445871.


Context: Long-distance running (greater than 3000 m) is often recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Running injury rates increase significantly when weekly mileage extends beyond 40 miles cumulatively. With the development of running analysis and other diagnostic tests, injuries to the leg secondary to bone, musculotendinous, and vascular causes can be diagnosed and successfully managed.

Evidence acquisition: Searches used the terms running, injuries, lower extremity, leg, medial tibial stress syndrome, compartment syndrome, stress fractures, popliteal artery entrapment, gastrocnemius soleus tears, and Achilles tendinopathy. Sources included Medline, Google Scholar, and Ovid from 1970 through January 2012.

Results: Tibial stress fractures and medial tibial stress syndrome can sometimes be prevented and/or treated by correcting biomechanical abnormalities. Exertional compartment syndrome and popliteal artery entrapment syndrome are caused by anatomic abnormalities and are difficult to treat without surgical correction.

Conclusion: Leg pain due to bone, musculotendinous, and vascular causes is common among long-distance runners. Knowledge of the underlying biomechanical and/or anatomic abnormality is necessary to successfully treat these conditions.

Keywords: jogging; leg injuries; running.

Publication types

  • Review