Being able to recognize the early signs of a running injury can help you cut your recovery time dramatically and minimize time off from training. In some cases, you may not even have to alter your training schedule if you catch a minor running injury quickly. So how do you tell the difference between normal soreness that goes away and beginning of an over-use injury?
Stage 1: You have mild pain after a run, but it goes away within an hour. Ice helps at this phase. If your muscles are tight they may respond well to gentle stretching and hot packs or spending 10-15 minutes in the jacuzzi. Drinking plenty of water can also help the healing process.
Stage 2: Amber Alert. You have pain while you are running. It may not start immediately after beginning a run, but by the end of your run you definitely feel it. This is quite different than muscle soreness, which may even improve somewhat as you run when the muscles warm up. Now your pain correlates with the activity of running, and people usually need to cut back from their mileage at this time.
Stage 3: Red Alert. You have pain when you aren’t running. This is a sign that there is an inflammatory component to your running injury. Purely mechanical pain is on with the activity or movement, then goes away quickly once the offending activity ends. It’s like bumping your elbow. If you only do it once, the pain subsides fairly quickly. If you continue to bump your elbow, or any other part of your body, then it stays sore for awhile. At this stage you need to stop running or at the very least cut back enough so you aren’t having pain between runs, bringing you back to Stage 1 or Stage 2. If you stop running and still have pain, it’s time to seek the advice of a qualified professional who specializes in treating running injures.
What Can You Do?
Pain is the body’s warning sign. Just like the engine light in a car, don’t ignore it. Post workout soreness usually decreases within a few days. If your symptoms start moving toward Stage 2, call us for a free phone consultation.