Before asking the internet about your running niggle, read what SportsInjuryFix’s resident running expert Mike James has to say about Dr Google.

These days advice on injury prevention and treatment appears everywhere. Social Media forums are a plenty, some hosted by healthcare professionals, others by patients and many via running clubs and groups.

Coupled with this, mainstream media in the form of magazines and websites all offer articles, videos, blogs and thoughts on running injury, training and rehabilitation. 

People are now seeking quick, easily accessible advice to help them get back to running or to keep running. It is understandable that runners wanting a quick answer ask the internet for advice because finding the right therapist to provide informed advice can be difficult, time consuming and frustrating.

Runners want to be told, do these couple of simple things at home then you’ll be fine to keep running.

Finding trustworthy and accurate information

The difficulty is finding a trusted source of valuable, and more importantly, accurate information that provides effective advice. Often this can prove to be a minefield.

I have personally followed threads where genuine people hoping to help others, provide advice based on hearsay and personal anecdotal experience, that is so far from the current best practise evidence base, that it could potentially lead to more harm than help.

At best, it can confuse a runner, prolong symptoms and delay recovery and a return to full training and competition. Treatment that works for one person may not necessarily work for another based on individual differences between those people.

Getting online advice is not necessarily always bad though, it can offer a quick and easy snapshot of possible injury diagnosis and treatment advice, and most online advice is generally caveated with “if in doubt, seek the advice of a healthcare professional”.

Make sure to check the website and/or person for the appropriate qualifications and industry association accreditation though, if all is in place then these are safe, quick and sometimes effective ways of getting the help you need.

Is the gold standard advice to still see a professional in person?

So, is the gold standard advice to still see a professional in person? I would say yes. I know that may seem like a biased therapist looking through rose-tinted glasses, but as an experienced runner who also understands how simple aches and pains can affect you, I regularly still seek advice and assessment from my colleagues to keep me on track. 

The human body is complex, but more importantly, it is extremely individual. Although “pattern recognition” (seeing trends and commonalities in patients) is a well-established diagnostic tool in therapy, physical and subjective assessment of the individual runner cannot be replaced if we are aiming to identify the root cause of any issues and return the runner in an improved condition.

Spending time talking to an individual about their training history, conditioning status, work, life and family situations, as well as their thoughts, beliefs, fears and values via a thorough clinical and functional assessment in order to address these findings remains the optimal method of helping someone.

Seeing someone in-person also helps to develop the “therapeutic alliance”, a well-established factor in the success of any treatment episode. The relationship between therapist and athlete/patient that promotes trust, honesty, confidence and collaborative goal setting and adherence, with the ultimate aim of promoting self-management through education.

Online assessments

However, life often gets in the way, and attending an in-person session can be difficult. Recent times have seen an increase in online assessments via platforms such as FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype where a 20-30-minute face to face assessment is performed where you may even be asked to do some movements or physical tests after a short conversation.

These allow the therapist to create a working diagnosis of what your problems may be and to provide the most accurate and effective advice and treatment.

I have trialled these myself, I am yet to make a judgement on whether they are something I will continue to use in the long term, they will never replace or improve on an in-person assessment, but they can offer an effective halfway house option that bridges the gap between online advice and a full appointment. 

It can often provide a platform to “catch things early” and reduce the risk of things worsening and becoming a bigger issue, or indeed, they can be used to confirm the need for a full in person assessment. 

If in doubt, my advice would always be to seek the advice and assessment in-person from a healthcare professional. Runners want to run, and an in-person assessment is the most appropriate and effective way of facilitating an appropriate return to running, or to manage you through a period of training and to get to the start line on race day. 

Find a good therapist

Aim to find a therapist by the type of person they are and their experience of your injury and sport, rather than by their profession, good therapists tend to practice in a very similar way despite variations in training background or title.

If you feel that you need to find a therapist who can help you run to your maximum and keep those niggles and injuries at bay then visit, where you can search for a therapist who specialises in running injuries and /or a particular injury. resident running expert Mike James has spent over 20 years treating novice to elite runners worldwide from 800m to 100-mile races. Mike is a Physio and Sports Rehabilitator who has worked in the military, NHS, private and elite sport sectors. He is also a competitive runner who has completed over 100 marathons and ultra-marathons.

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