Just about every runner who trains consistently and with some degree of intensity will suffer some type of injury. The stress of training and the repetitive nature of the sport makes it almost inevitable that somewhere along the way you will injure a body part, usually a running muscle.
Fortunately, most common running injuries are relatively minor and more of an annoyance than anything else. But tell that to someone a week or two before a marathon and it’s a lot more than a minor annoyance.
Typically, the most frequent injuries runners suffer are blisters, muscle strains and soreness and respiratory colds. These minor injuries usually aren’t enough to slow you down significantly and often a day or two of reduced running or total layoff is sufficient to get you back into training.
More severe injuries will require a totally different approach. Some injuries necessitate complete rest from running but allow a light form of cross-training. Other runner injuries—such as a stress fracture–are so severe that no training whatsoever can be done. Then, you must rehab the injury under the supervision of a medical professional.
Again, some running injuries you can train through without undue risk. How you decide which injuries you can run through and which injuries you can’t, are crucial to getting to the starting line healthy.
Here are the guidelines to help you decide whether you can run or not through an injury and if you do, what will help:
Never run through pain. If the injury is causing pain when you run, you should not run at all. Doing so, will only set you back.
Don’t run if the injury is causing you to limp or alter your stride. Doing so, may create another running injury as your body compensates. Never limp through a workout.
If you’re sore from a hard or long run, you can run easily if the soreness doesn’t worsen during a run. Usually minor muscle soreness disappears during a run as the muscles warm up.
If an injury worsens and pain develops during a run, stop immediately.
Never push through through pain. It won’t make you tougher; it’ll make you injured.
Don’t use pain-killers before you run. They will just mask any pain you might have and make any injury much worse.
Don’t take aspirin, anti-inflammatories or over-the-counter medications before you run. They won’t help and can be dangerous. If necessary, take them after the run.
When nursing an injury, avoid hills (especially downhills), speed training, long runs and </strong>races. All place too much stress on a minor injury and could aggravate it.
Adjust your training to accommodate the injury. Don’t try to bull your way through the training schedule. You may need to run easier for a few days or take an additional day or two off. Missing a few runs won’t have a great impact on your training schedule.
Warm up before you run and cool down afterward. Heat your sore or injured muscles before you run and ice them afterward. Never heat an injured muscle after running.
Following your run, treat the existing injury. Usually that means reducing the muscular inflammation with ice.
Don’t stretch a sore or injured muscle. Doing so, will only aggravate it.
Be patient. Even a minor injury usually takes a few days to heal. A more severe injury may take as long as two weeks. But you will get better if you don’t rush it.
Know your limits. If you’re injured, don’t try to be the brave soldier and force yourself to train like you’re healthy. Doing so, can only worsen the injury.
Troubleshoot. Analyze your injury and try to determine what went wrong so you can correct it.