Should I run with pain or should I stop?

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Do you have a running related injury? Here at pain and performance clinic we see lots of runners and are confident treating running related injuries in runners of every level.

Plantar fascia? Achilles tendon? Knee pain? Calf pain? Hip pain?

Have you any of these problems and been told to stop running…..?

We believe that running related injuries don’t mean you have to stop running forever like some other people would tell you! A lot of the time running can actually be beneficial as a rehab tool.

If you have pain with your running and are wondering should you keep going or stop running then here’s a few things  we use to decide if you should keep going or if you should rest up.

  1. Pathology – The first thing we look at is the pathology itself, most injuries can take some bit of running but the main thing you should rest on is a bone stress injury.
  2. Irritability – The next thing you need to consider is how irritable is your injury? How much pain does running cause for you? Does 60 seconds of running give you immense pain? if so then you should hold off on starting to run just yet. If you can run pain free for a few miles but get some pain towards the end of your run then stopping altogether might not be the right thing to do. Instead you could try out walk-runs or even reduce your millage to a more comfortable level and build back up gradually.
  3. Stage of season – Another big thing we look at is what stage of the season you are at. If you are in the middle of your peak build up to the marathon you need to keep running. We will try to modify your sessions some and add an individualised strengthening program so you can work through pain. Then we would use the two week taper pre marathon to reduce your running load with the hope being that during this two week period the pain settles so that you can complete the marathon to the best of your ability.

If you have already stopped running and you’re unsure whether or not you are able to run again here are some indications you are ready to run again:

  1. If it is pain free for you to hop on the spot for 60 seconds on each leg individually,
  2. If 30 minutes of walking is pain free, or
  3. Your daily activities are pain free

Please note that sometimes being completely pain free before you start running again may not be feasible, but, thankfully more recent studies have actually shown that less than 3 out of 10 pain or “mild pain” is fine for you to return to running. We are big advocates here at pain and performance clinic that a little pain is okay. When returning running expecting some pain is fine, the big think for you to monitor is what is your pain like the next day? 24 hours after your run you should be feeling no pain or the same pain as you had before the run, going back to running shouldn’t mean your knee pain or calf pain or whatever injury you had is now a 7 or 8 out of 10 pain. 

If you’re feeling sore while running and looking for an alternative to keep you fit while you recover from your calf pain, heel pain or knee pain whatever it may be, then it might be a good idea to cross train. Find another form of exercise that challenges you aerobically like cycling, swimming or using the rowing machine.

You can substitute these into your plan in place of running to keep fit while you rehab your injury provided that these too don’t aggravate your pain. you can even use these the same way you would run, if you have a long slow run planned then go for a long slow cycle, if you are planning on doing one minute sprints followed by a recovery walk then get on the rower and go hard for a minute with a rest in between.

You can also use cross training as an adjunct to running, if you want to go for an hour long run but you get pain after 30 minutes, then run for 30 minutes and hop on the bike for 30 minutes of a cycle, this way you keep up your hours training but still get to run what you are able.

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Our final piece of advice is if you are no longer feeling your ankle pain, knee pain or hip pain and have returned to running and are feeling good, don’t try and push back to where you were too quickly. One piece of advice I find very good myself is “the rule of two” don’t increase your intensity or distance until you’ve done two runs of the same distance and the same intensity. If you have two good runs then when you do decide to increase your running then you should on increase your distance or your intensity not both.

For example if a 5km run takes you 25 minutes and you want to increase your distance to 6km, don’t try run that 6km in sub 30 minutes, you should keep the same tempo. Or you could keep the distance at five 5km and up the intensity and try to go for a quicker time.

If you ever want to discuss your running injuries or running plans you can always contact us on the phone, via email, on our social media or book in for a face to face consultation online.  Consultations can also be arranged via video if you are unable to come into the clinic. We also provide running assessments and physio lead strength and conditioning for runners.

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Our goal here is to get you out of pain and back to your physical best so that you can enjoy the things that are important to you.  

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