What is a niggle?

A niggle is a pain that is subtle or may cause slight but persistent annoyance. Niggles are often warning signs of injury and if ignored, can result in injury. They are generally caused by overly fatigued muscles, an increase in impact or an area of tightness or rubbing. It is important not to ignore your niggles so that you can avoid injury and keep on training!

Runners running through a forest away from the camera

What should I do if I have a niggle?

  1. Identify if anything has changed in your routine/training as this could be the root of the problem. Have you stoped strength work or stretching? Are you sleeping less or feeling more stressed?

  2. Try to rest more and spend less time loading the area (i.e. if you have a sore foot, reduce the time on your feet)

  3. Test the body with an easy run. Begin with a good quality warm up and listen to your body to see if the niggle is getting worse - if it feels good, you can continue your running plan whilst continuing to assess your body If it gets worse you need total rest and should take it more seriously.

  4. Focus on supporting strength work to reduce the risk of the niggle reoccurring or becoming worse

  5. Focus on recovery and mobility work - look at joining our weekly recovery classes!

  6. Be prepared to reduce your weekly mileage or the number of running days when returning to running

Is it more serious? Am I injured?

It's really important to be careful when we have niggles as they could be a warning sign of an injury around the corner, or it could be your body telling you that you are over-loading one side, running 'wonky' or have a muscular imbalance. All of these things are good to know as they give us a direction of how to overcome it.

However, as a general rule of thumb:

  • A niggle often doesn't alter the way that you move your body - it may cause you to limp or alter your stride pattern

  • A niggle often feels like a dull ache caused by fatigued muscles rather than a sharp pain

  • A niggle is classed as a minor soreness or discomfort - anything more than that may be more serious

  • A niggle often gets better over time (within 1-2 weeks)

If you think you may have an injury, we'd recommend getting advice from a medical professional

A group of people stretching on the track

Recovery and more information

If you want further information about a specific injury or help reducing your risk, check out the Injury Management section of the Support tab from within your Runna app!

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