Plus, pro tips for treating them.

If you picked up running as a way of staying fit (and maybe sane) during the pandemic, you’re not alone. In a recent survey of almost 4,000 runners by RunRepeat, an athletic shoe review site, more than a quarter of them reported that they started their running habit over the course of the last year. And while new runners often cite physical health as a key reason for picking up the sport, it’s not abnormal to end up sidelined. The good news: the most common injuries are both avoidable and fixable. 

Most often, running injuries stem from three main reasons, says Melody Hrubes, MD, New York City-based director of the primary care sports division for the New York region at Rothman Orthopedics: You’re doing too much, your running form is off, or you’re not focusing enough on recovery.

One way to treat your muscles and joints right post-run is from the inside-out via plant medicine. In particular, it is believed that cannabinoids (specifically CBN and CBG), shogaols and gingerols (found in ginger), and curcuminoids (found in turmeric) can help bring down inflammation, says Kevin Spelman, Ph.D., herbalist and molecular biologist based in Ashland, Oregon.* Recovery Sticks are packed with Turmeric, Ginger, and CBG providing some serious relief for achy muscles and joints.

According to a 2020 survey from Running USA, the top issues runners complained of were related to plantar fasciitis, knee, and hip pain. Here’s how to spot and address each of them. (Always see a professional to address your specific injury if your discomfort persists or worsens.)

Plantar fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue in your foot that travels from the heel all the way to the toes. When the foot is subject to too much stress, this tendon can become inflamed. The result is a stabbing ache near the heel that usually feels worse during your first few steps of the day. Plantar fasciitis can come up due to running often on concrete, skipping warm-ups and cool-downs, and having tight calves or hamstrings (which can pull on the plantar fascia). Runners who are heel strikers can also be more prone to the condition.

Prevent it: A dynamic warm-up that includes moves that target the backs of the legs, like hamstring scoops, can help loosen muscles so they’re not tugging on the plantar fascia. If you’re always jogging on hard surfaces like the street or sidewalk, you could swap in a few grassy paths or trail runs. Not all heel strike runners will get plantar fasciitis, but if it’s bothersome, you can work with a coach to adjust your strike pattern. “Shifting your strike more toward the mid-foot helps to disperse the force of hitting the ground away from your heel, which can cut the risk of plantar fasciitis,” Hrubes says. You may also want to check your running shoes, adds Tracey Abbott, running coach and founder of Refuge Acupuncture in Denver, Colorado. “I’d say 85% of running injuries begin with the wrong shoes.” She recommends getting a gait analysis at a specialty running store so an expert can assess the way your feet pronate and recommend proper footwear.  

Treat it: Some runners can find relief by putting gel heel cups in their (running and non-running) shoes; these cushion the heel from impact. Wearing night splints can also help. An acupuncturist can release the calf and foot muscles so they don’t put a strain on the plantar fascia. “An at-home trick I’ve used for years is to roll a golf ball around under my foot to release the tightness,” adds Abbott. 

Runner’s Knee

“I call knees ‘victim joints,’” says Hrubes. “They have to take whatever the ground reaction forces send up from the foot and ankle complex, and whatever the center of gravity sends through the hips/pelvis.” 

One of the most common aches in this area is called runner’s knee. “This injury happens because the foot/ankle or the hip/pelvis are not sending forces through your knee appropriately. The knee ends up falling in, which causes friction between the bones, leading to pain,” says Hrubes. Runner’s knee is most often caused by doing too much, too soon, too quickly. 

Prevent it: One of the easiest ways to avoid runner’s knee is to build up slowly and “even before you start running, make sure you’re able to walk comfortably and pain-free for at least four miles,” says Hrubes. Another good idea: Strengthen your glutes, core, and leg muscles. Hrubes likes squats, side-lying leg raises, monster walks, and glute bridges.

Treat it: A doctor or physical therapist can recommend different taping techniques or bracing to help runner’s knee heal, says Hrubes. You can consider seeing an acupuncturist for alternative remedies: “For runner’s knee, we need to increase the flow of blood to the space between the patella and femur, and acupuncture needles are perfect for that,” says Abbott. During your session, your acupuncturist may also use electrical stimulation, cupping, or gua sha.

Greater Trochanter Hip Bursitis

Fifteen percent of runners surveyed by Running USA said they had hip aches. Specifically, Hrubes says that greater trochanter hip bursitis is a common hip injury she sees in runners. When the bursa (a fluid-filled sac located near the hip as well as near other joints) becomes inflamed, it swells so it doesn’t decrease friction between the surrounding bones, muscles, and tendons as well. Essentially, you end up with your IT band rubbing against your greater trochanter, the bony point at the top of the thigh bone, more prominently than it normally would. 

Prevent it: Bursitis in this part of the body can stem from overuse or faulty mechanics, so it’s key that your running routine makes sense for your level and you’re running with good form. “You’ll want to strengthen the gluteal muscles but also keep them loose via myofascial release exercises like foam rolling or taking a massage ball to the wall and rolling over them,” says Hrubes. (And even though it sounds counterintuitive, doing both of those things will be helpful.) Loosening up the IT band in the same manner can also prevent it from scraping over the hip. Regular acupuncture sessions can also keep you balanced and healthy. Abbott recommends twice-weekly sessions during periods of heavy training. 

Treat it: Stretching and myofascial release exercises can prevent this injury and they can also help you heal from it. Just don’t foam roll over the bony prominence of your hip, warns Hrubes. “This can irritate the bursa even more.” But anywhere else is fair game: Hrubes suggests going over your glutes, hip abductors, and quads. And consider seeing an acupuncturist for a specific healing protocol for this injury a

s well. 

The bottom line: If you’re a new runner, start slow and focus on quality over quantity (both mileage- and speed-wise). And whether you’re healthy or injured, recovery—with foam rolling, plant medicine, and good sleep—is key. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.