Many of us are about midway through our spring training cycle. This is about the time the we start worrying about injuries. It is important to respond immediately to any aches or pains. Sometimes, simply taking an extra rest day rest day is all that is needed. If pain continues for more than two consecutive runs, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment
Here are some useful rules of thumb to decide if you should run or not. Keep in mind that this information is only a guide and is not medical advice. Consult your doctor if you think you are injured for a proper diagnosis.
To Run or Not To Run
You CAN run:
- if there is no pain walking, or going up or downstairs,
- if the pain or stiffness is only present at the start of a run,
- if the pain does not get worse on consecutive runs, or
- if stretching or icing before you run keeps the pain under control.
You SHOULD NOT run:
- if there is substantial bruising or swelling,
- if the pain is intense,
- if the pain gets worse as you run,
- if you have a ‘chest cold,’ or
- if you have to significantly alter your running form to avoid pain.
If the pain DISAPPEARS during your run:
- continue to run, but spend more time warming up, including dynamic stretching; and/or self massage;
- start your run at a slower pace;
- warm-up with walking, cycling, or another aerobic captivity; or
- try running later in the day, if you are usually a morning runner.
If your pain STARTS during your run:
- you can continue to run, as long as the pain does not get worse;
- if the pain is intense when it starts, stop and stretch, or walk for a bit, and them try to continue running;
- if this is a chronic situation, try to stop running before the pain normally starts—i.e. plan on running a shorter distance;
- do part of your workout running, them continue by cross-training with an activity that doesn’t cause pain; or
- try running on different terrain, or with different shoes.
If your pain starts AFTER a run:
- shorten your next run by half until your injury is under control. Then slowly increase the speed and distance of your runs until you are back to where you were before the injury; and
- be sure to stretch and ice shortly after the run, even before any stiffness of pain sets in.
- Make sure you are using proper footwear, and replace your shoe regularly (every 500 km or so). Ideally you will have 2-3 pairs of shoes to rotate through during you weekly training.
- Work on your flexibility through dynamic stretching warm-ups and static stretching cool downs. Add yoga to your cross-training activities.
- Strength-train (including body weight exercises) for injury prevention for both injury prevention, and as part of your recovery. Aim for 2-3 times a week.
- Take regular rest days.
The information in this post is meant to act as a guide and is not medical advice. Please consult you health care practitioner if you feel pain, or think you may be injured for a proper diagnosis and treatment.