Is your child active and loves to run around? While running offers fantastic benefits, growing bodies may encounter occasional hurdles along the way. Our goal is to provide you with valuable insights into running injuries in kids and teens, preventive measures, and effective recovery strategies to ensure your child’s well-being. Whether they’re sprinting on the field, playing games with friends, or exploring the world around them, staying active is essential for their overall health and growth. 

Factors Contributing to Running Injuries

Running injuries in kids and teens can stem from various factors. Overuse, often due to repetitive activities like running without sufficient rest, strains muscles, tendons, and bones. Additionally, rapid increases in training intensity or volume can overload young bodies. Poor biomechanics, like running form issues or inadequate stability, may also further stress the body. And without cross-training to strengthen supporting muscles, the risk of injury further escalates. While improper footwear can exacerbate the potential of foot, ankle, and lower limb stress. 

Other factors like muscle imbalances, training errors, and environmental factors, such as hard surfaces, can contribute to injury development. Growth-related changes during adolescence like biomechanical alterations increase vulnerability to growth plate injuries. Keeping an unhealthy lifestyle can also make kids and teens more prone to injury. Poor nutrition, hydration, sleep, and stress management directly impacts susceptibility. 

Common Running Injuries in Kids and Teens

Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome):

Shin splints cause pain along the shinbone (tibia) due to micro-tears in the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue surrounding it. This overuse injury is common in activities with repetitive stress on the lower leg. Pain can occur on either the inner or outer aspect of the shin and typically worsens during activity. Early intervention is crucial to promote healing and prevent shin splints from hindering a child’s participation in their favorite activities.

Muscle Strains and Sprains:

Muscle strains and sprains occur when muscles or ligaments are overstretched or torn, commonly affecting areas like the calves, thighs, or ankles. These injuries often result from sudden movements, improper warm-up, or overexertion during physical activity. Treatment typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), along with gentle stretching and gradual return to activity to promote healing and prevent reinjury.


Blisters are fluid-filled pockets on the skin caused by friction and pressure, often resulting from ill-fitting shoes or excessive rubbing. While blisters are not typically serious, they can be painful and interfere with activity. Prevention strategies include wearing properly fitting shoes, moisture-wicking socks, and applying lubricants or protective bandages to areas prone to friction. If blisters do develop, they should be kept clean and protected to prevent infection and aid in healing.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee):

Characterized by pain around the kneecap, runner’s knee can arise from overuse, improper form, or muscle imbalances. Running, jumping, and activities that bend the knee (downhill running, stairs, etc.) can trigger it. Weak thighs, tight hamstrings, and kneecap alignment can also contribute. Recognizing early signs and addressing them with targeted exercises and training techniques helps manage pain and keeps kids active.

Achilles Tendinitis:

 Achilles tendinitis is characterized by pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, often resulting from overuse. This condition can cause discomfort and stiffness, particularly during activities that involve jumping or running. Rest, ice, stretching, and strengthening exercises are typically recommended for managing symptoms and promoting healing.

Stress Fractures:

Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone caused by repetitive stress, frequently occurring in the shinbone (tibia) or foot bones. These injuries typically result from overuse and can cause localized pain, swelling, and tenderness during weight-bearing activities. Rest and modified activity are essential for healing, along with proper footwear and gradual return to activity to prevent further injury.

Plantar Fasciitis:

Plantar fasciitis involves pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue running along the bottom of the foot, usually near the heel. The condition is commonly associated with activities that involve repetitive stress on the feet, such as running or standing for prolonged periods. Treatment often includes rest, stretching exercises, supportive footwear, and orthotic inserts to alleviate symptoms and prevent recurrence.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS):

ITBS causes pain on the outer side of the knee or hip. While inflammation may be involved in some cases, the primary culprit is irritation of the iliotibial band from repetitive friction against the thigh bone during activities like running or cycling. This overuse injury can result in sharp or burning pain. Implementing targeted stretching and strengthening exercises for the hip and thigh muscles can help alleviate symptoms and prevent recurrence.

Sever's Disease and Osgood-Schlatter Disease:

These common conditions affect adolescents during growth spurts. Sever’s disease causes heel pain due to inflammation of the Achilles tendon’s attachment point on the heel bone’s growth plate. Osgood-Schlatter disease results in a painful bump below the kneecap from inflammation of the patellar tendon’s attachment point to the shinbone’s growth plate. Activities like running or jumping can worsen pain in both conditions, which typically manifests during weight-bearing movements. Parents can help manage symptoms by providing supportive footwear and modifying activity levels as needed.

Prevention and Recovery

Preventing running injuries is crucial for maintaining a sustainable routine. Start by gradually increasing difficulty and intensity of the activity and allowing ample rest periods to prevent overuse injuries. Prioritize proper warm-up, cool-down, and stretching routines to enhance flexibility and reduce muscle strain. Teach kids and teens to listen to their body, and stop activity if they feel any pain or discomfort. Also keep en eye on their shoes and replace worn-out shoes to maintain support and shock absorption.

Recovering from running injuries efficiently is essential for getting back on track quickly without risk of further injury.

  • Prioritize rest and allow the body time to heal fully before returning to running activities.
  • Incorporate gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to promote flexibility and muscle recovery.
  • Consider cross-training activities that are low-impact, such as swimming or cycling, to maintain fitness without aggravating the injury.
  • Utilize ice therapy to reduce inflammation and pain, applying ice packs for 15-20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression garments or wraps can help reduce swelling and provide support to the injured area.
  • Elevating the injured limb above heart level when resting can also aid in reducing swelling and promoting circulation.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist for personalized guidance and rehabilitation exercises tailored to the specific injury.
  • Gradually ease back into running activities once kids and teens are pain-free and have regained strength and flexibility, starting with short, easy runs and gradually increasing intensity and duration over time.

By following these tips, you can prevent running-related injuries and optimize the recovery process should they occur. 

Wrapping Up

Understanding common running injuries in kids and teens, along with effective prevention and recovery strategies, is essential for fostering a safe and active experience. By implementing gradual training progressions, prioritizing rest and recovery, and listening to their bodies, active kids and teens can minimize the risk of injury and maximize their physical potential. With proper care and attention, parents can support their children’s active pursuits, ensuring their well-being thrives.

Sources: Nemours, Healthline, VeryWell Fit