As the weather gets warmer, many of us will dust off the running shoes and begin hitting the pavement.

Besides its obvious convenience and accessibility for many people, there are numerous benefits to running, including:

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Weight loss
  • Leg strength and core stability
  • Increased mental wellbeing
  • Stronger bones and healthier joints

While it offers many pros, running is a high-impact exercise and presents its own set of challenges to the body. Whether you took a break from running over the winter or you’re giving it a shot for the first time this summer, some aches and pains are natural while your body gets used to the repetitive motion and pavement pounding.

If the pain keeps up, gets worse during your run or returns stronger when you reach the finish line, you may have an actual injury.

Here are the 4 most common running injuries and how to treat them:

Runner’s knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner’s knee, is that dull, achy pain experienced under the kneecap. It is primarily felt during running, especially on an incline, but could also be noticeable while walking down stairs, squatting, standing up or sitting down.

This is the most common injury for new runners and is due to an irritation of the soft tissues or lining of the knee.

Despite how tempting it may be, you should not try to run through the pain; instead, you should rest the knee to reduce inflammation. When you’re ready to return to activity, focus on strengthening your hips and correcting your running form to avoid further injury.

Shin splints

Medial tibial stress syndrome can be felt as pain on the inside or the outside of your shins. It is most often felt while walking or running, or while stretching your foot downwards or pulling it upwards.

The best remedy for shin splints is a shoe with proper cushioning, but strengthening your calves and ankles can also help prevent this nagging injury.

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be the result of a number of factors, including poor running mechanics, flat feet, weakness in the core or hips, nerve irritation in your lower back, tight calf muscles, inflexible toes or poor pelvic positioning (too far forward or back) while running.

You’ll feel this injury as a stabbing pain in the base of your foot near your heel; it will often be stiff near the start of your run and return at the end. Plantar fasciitis can be particularly troublesome in the morning, punishing you during your first 15-20 steps after getting out of bed.

Some possible solutions include a proper stretching routine (including heel raises), an over-the-counter orthotic for arch support or stronger hips and core through strength training.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is often experienced as a dull, aching pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon, usually felt while walking, running, raising up on your toes or stretching your calves.

Similar to other common running injuries, this one can be the result of tightness or weakness in other areas of your lower body, particularly the calves, glutes or hamstrings.

To avoid Achilles tendonitis, work on strengthening and stretching those muscles while also focusing on hip and core strength.

Remember, the best way to avoid running injuries is a proper warmup and cooldown, and being mindful of when to take a break and rest your body.