By: Erin Mahoney, VP of Education at International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)


An exercise injury can happen to anyone, regardless of fitness level. Being aware of common injuries and taking steps to perform preventive exercises is essential to reducing rates of exercise-related injury and knowing how to treat them when they do occur.

Take a look at some of the most common exercise-related injuries and some simple mobility and flexibility exercises that can help you stay pain free.

Piriformis Syndrome


If you ever have sensations such as sharp pain, numbness, or tingling in your lower back and glute region that travels down the back of your leg, you’re not alone. And, a muscle called the piriformis could be to blame.

This small muscle plays a big role in keeping lower body movements smooth and balanced, particularly during extension, abduction and external hip rotation. And, when you know how it affects movement and pain, you can avoid what’s called piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis syndrome doesn’t have to sideline your goals and successes. Simple mobility exercises will help keep this tiny muscle from tightening and causing pain and dysfunction. Keeping the body’s strength work balanced will help to avoid overcompensation issues, and including strengthening work specifically on the hip adductors is essential.

ITB Syndrome

IT band syndrome is common. It occurs when there is instability around the knee joint and results in sharp pain on the outside of the knee. Many runners know what this feels like, but ITB syndrome is also common in cyclists and other athletes.

The causes of IT band syndrome are general overuse, but only because of specific muscle weaknesses. When the gluteal muscles and muscles around the hip are too weak, they cause the IT band to pull the knee out of alignment, hence the pain and injury.

Because weak muscles and overuse cause ITB syndrome, there are two ways to prevent or manage this injury:

  • Rest
  • Strengthening muscles of the hip

No athlete wants to rest, and if you do enough work to build strength in the muscles connected to the IT band, you shouldn’t have to. However, when injury and pain are severe, you may need to sit out some workouts for a while as you work on strength.

Strengthening these muscles is the key to both preventing IT band syndrome and correcting it. If you are already struggling with pain from this injury you may need to back off the exercise that is causing it, like running, and in the meantime work on the right strength exercises. If you haven’t experienced any IT-related pain, add in these exercises to make sure you won’t:

  • The Clamshell
  • The Bridge
  • The Single-Leg Squat
  • The Lateral Band Walk

How to Deal with Plantar Fasciitis

Mechanically, something is going awry with the foot and the posterior chain of the hips, hamstring, calves, heel and the bottom of the foot. Whenever you take a single step with your foot, there are three main joints that act as ‘shock absorbers’. They are:

  1. Toe extension
  2. Metatarsal-Philangeal (mid-foot) extension
  3. Ankle dorsiflexion

These joints are very commonly restricted due to improper footwear, old ankle injuries and fallen arches. The plantar fascia cannot lengthen the way it’s supposed to and the tissues start getting worn down and becoming hard and tense.

Eventually, if it gets bad enough, the plantar fasciitis could even cause a bone spur to start growing out of the bottom of the heel. If you’re dealing with such an injury, this is what you can do.

Exercises to Avoid:

  • Running
  • Jumping Rope
  • Box Jumps or Vertical Jumping

Exercises to Include:

These will be used at the beginning of the workout as a ‘warm up’ of sorts. One set of 10 repetitions should be sufficient.

  • Eccentric calf raises
  • Ankle dorsiflexion mobilizations
  • Heel walking
  • Toe flexibility work
  • Calf and hamstring stretching

Ways to modify other exercises in light of Plantar Fasciitis:

  • Make the exercises less weight bearing
  • Try a small heel lift
  • Stepping down during box jumps or plyometrics

Further actions on this topic:

  • Learn the short foot exercise
  • Consider seeing a medical professional
  • Consider wearing a brace
  • Lacrosse ball rolling

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) is a global leader and pioneer in the fitness and nutrition personal training certification industry. For more than 30 years, ISSA has been committed to providing the highest quality certification program by merging the gym experience with practical applied sciences in order to help people achieve their goals. Curently, ISSA has trained more than 200,000 students and placed personal trainers across 92 countries, all while continuing to develop greater access to opportunities that promote a healthier world. For more about ISSA, visit .