What are the most common injuries in a marathon?

Because of the implications of running such a race, it takes the fingers of both hands to count the most common injuries in a marathon. Keep in mind that we mean running 42 kilometers in a row without counting all the effort and the previous training days.

Next, we will list the most common injuries when a person subjects their body to such a sacrifice. It is an effort that the human body is more than capable of supporting, but that can lead to pathologies precisely because of what has been said: it is not only running the marathon but also all the previous training.

Typical muscle injuries in a marathon

As many injuries occur frequently, let’s start by grouping the first category into this group. In this context, by muscle injuries, we understand:

  • Overloads: when a muscle becomes overly fatigued and cannot cope with the effort we ask of it, overloads can appear. These discomforts will force us to stop the effort, treat the pathology, and rest.
  • Contractures: when pushing a muscle to the limit, the contraction-relaxation cycle can be altered. When a muscle is involuntarily and pathologically contracted, we call it a contracture. We will have to solve the pathology and receive treatment to prevent its reappearance.
  • Shoelaces: even if we are well prepared, the micro-tears that give rise to shoelaces in long-distance races can always appear. It should be taken into account that, throughout a marathon, we take tens of thousands of steps.
  • Muscle tears: the most severe degree after shoelaces are tears. In this case, the muscle gives way, and instead of micro-tears, larger bundles of fibers are broken. Thus, there is a discontinuity in more or less part of the muscle, and we will have notable functional impotence and pain.

Other common marathon injuries

Beyond the fact that muscle ailments tend to appear more often, others can be suffered when running a marathon. These are some of them:


Tendinitis, other injuries caused by overuse, is a soft tissue pathology widespread among long-distance runners. The tendon is the structure that connects muscle to bone. Therefore, whenever there is a muscle contraction, the tendon is pulled.

As we have said, in a marathon, this process is repeated more than 40,000 times, which can lead to injuries of this type. In summary, tendinitis consists of the rupture of small fibrous bundles of the tendon in question.


Like any pathology ending in -itis, it is an inflammation. In this case, the periosteum, the tissue that lines the bones. The Spanish Journal of Podiatry’s publication explains that the tibia’s periosteum is especially sensitive when subjected to heavy workloads. Whenever there is an impact against the ground, it suffers microtrauma.

Repeated thousands and thousands of times, this can end up being harmful. Therefore, periostitis is one of the most common injuries in the marathon.

Plantar fasciitis

Commonly, the fascia of the soul suffers. The fascia is a tissue that runs from the heel to the base of the toes and contributes to the stability and distribution of forces during gait.

Again, if we request its function beyond its capacity, it may be damaged. In this case, also, we will notice punctures in the sole with any step we take, so it is really limiting, as stated in an article in the Pinar del Río Journal of Medical Sciences.

Sprains, another of the common injuries in a marathon

Ligaments are another soft tissue susceptible to injury when subjected to heavy workloads. In this case, its function is to give the joints stability and not allow the bones that compose them to make unnatural movements. That is, they limit the range of motion they have.

When the ligaments have been working for a long time, they can become fatigued and not do their job well. Let’s say they get tired, and their reaction speed is not the same. Therefore, it is not uncommon for any small misstep or sprained ankle to turn into a sprain throughout a marathon.

Also, beware of heatstroke.

In closing, it is worth mentioning that heatstroke is also one of the most common injuries in a marathon. Despite not being something strictly physical, it is another problem that we must deal with. It is especially applicable in hot countries like Spain, and especially if the race takes place around noon or early in the afternoon.

To prevent this, it is vital to hydrate properly and wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Otherwise, dizziness, cramps, inability to continue running will appear, and it may even lead to fainting in the middle of the street, with the danger that this entails.

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