Try these tips to help ease the most common types of running pain.

Ouch! 3 Types of Running Pain and How to Fix

Running should be fun, or at the very least pain-free. But when you’re starting out or upping a training regimen, you may find yourself plagued by unexplained aches and pains. Here are the three most common problems and what to do about them.

Side Stitch

What It Is: A sharp pain or ache just underneath your ribs or along the side of your waist.

What to Do: Starting at the beginning of your run (or even before), take a few slow, deep belly breaths every few minutes. Start by pushing the air out of your lungs, then fill them deeply, letting your belly out with each inhale. It can help to put your hand on your abdomen and feel your diaphragm lifting.

Leg Cramp

What It Is: A sudden tightening or pulling accompanied by a sharp ache. Cramps often occur as a result of dehydration or a lack of nutrients and minerals such as potassium or sodium. Cramps can also occur if your shoes don’t fit properly or are laced too tightly.

What to Do: As soon as you start to experience a cramp, stop and sip water. Next time you run, pre-hydrate ahead of time, then stop and drink at regular intervals. If you’re prone to cramps, carry a packet of salt and add it to your water, or fill your water bottle with a mineralized sports drink.

Shin Splints

What It Is: As the name suggests, shin splints are a pain that runs down the front of your leg, along your shin bone. Shin splints are often a sign you’re pushing yourself too hard.

What to Do: Runners often develop shin splints when they increase mileage too quickly; a good rule of thumb is not to add more than ten percent a week. It can also help to run on softer surfaces, such as a dirt path, track, or on grass if available. It’s also important to balance your training regimen by including other types of exercise.

Brian Soo is a senior physical therapist at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center who works inpatient, outpatient, and in sports medicine.  A recreational runner for many years, Brian also bicycles, plays racquetball, and most importantly, paddles on a 20-person Dragon Boat team that competes internationally and practices three times a week. He also enjoys active video games and believes they can be an excellent complement to an overall fitness regime.