I am no stranger to running with an injury. Sometimes you can continue to train and the pain improves, other times even tapering off isn’t enough. Runners as a group are mostly optimistic in nature; is it the endorphins? We think we are invincible, that our injuries will get better on their own, or that we can run through the pain. Pain is not a bad thing, it’s just a way of your body getting your attention. Here are some simple guidelines that will help you decide what your next step should be.
Running With An Injury: Injury or Workout Soreness?
As a rule of thumb, joint pain is not usually a result of soreness from a workout. Foot pain, knee pain, hip pain and back pain are not usually a result of post workout soreness. These areas should be listened to more quickly than muscle soreness in your quads, calves, hamstrings or gluteals. Muscle soreness from exercise usually peaks 24-48 hours after activity, and then gradually resolves over a few days. Warm baths or showers, slow and easy runs and gentle stretching can help ease this soreness.
1. Limping: If you are favoring one side or changing your stride because of pain, you are in danger of your pain getting worse or even injuring another area. This is no time to be running with an injury. I know this only too well. When I was in college I ignored some mild right hip pain only to find myself almost completely disabled by sciatica on the left side. This injury ended the cross country season for me, and almost the track season as well.
2. Your pain is affecting other areas of your life. If you have pain while running 8-10 miles it’s quite different than feeling that same pain when you are walking around the house. Again, not a time to be running with an injury.
3. Your Pain Is Getting Worse. If you have cut back your mileage and your pain continues to worsen, it’s time to stop running with an injury and take a break.
Most of the time if you have to stop running because of an injury, there was an underlying cause. Sometimes it’s from increasing mileage too quickly. Other times it’s due to an underlying muscle imbalance or poor form. If you are currently running with an injury or taking a break from an injury, call us and talk to one of our physical therapists for more information on getting you back to your usual training; possibly better, faster and stronger than ever.