Just about every runner who trains consistently and with any 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 suffer an injury. But fortunately, most running injuries are relatively minor and heal quickly.
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 the swing of things.
More severe injuries will require a totally different approach. Some injuries necessitate a complete break from running, but allow a light form of cross-training. Other injuries, are so severe that no running 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 healthy once again.
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 and trying to gut it out, will only set your eventual recovery 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 still sore the next day from a hard or long run, you can generally 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 the soreness worsens and pain develops during a run, stop immediately. Never push through pain. It won’t make you tougher; it’ll make you injured.
Don’t use pain-killers that allow you to run. They will just mask any pain you might have and make any injury much worse.
Don’t take aspirin, anti-inflammatories or any over-the-counter medications before you run. They won’t help and can be dangerous. If necessary, take them after the run.
When nursing a minor injury, avoid hills (especially downhills), speed training, long runs and races. All place too much stress on a sore or injured muscle and will 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 significant impact on your training schedule.
Warm up before you run and cool down afterward. Heat your sore 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.
Here are some other tips to dealing with a minor injury:
Be patient. Even a minor injury usually takes a few days to heal. A more severe injury may take as long as two weeks to a month. 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. You might not be able to even cross train.
Troubleshoot. Analyze your injury and try to determine what went wrong so you can correct it.
Wear good shoes. If you’re dinged up, it may simply be caused by wearing worn-out shoes. If so, buy a new pair with plenty of cushioning and support.