To Run or Not To Run

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By Dr. Jon DeGorter, DC
Jonas Chiropractic Sports Injury Care

That is the question many runners ask themselves when faced with a minor injury. If you’ve been running long enough, it’s almost inevitable that somewhere along the way you will suffer aches and pains, or even something more serious. Most running injuries are relatively minor and heal quickly, the most frequent being blisters, muscle strains and soreness. These minor injuries won’t slow you down significantly and will heal with R.I.C.E. treatment and a day or two of reduced running. While you can train through some injuries without undue risk, knowing which injuries you can run through and which injuries you can’t is crucial.

Never run with major pain. If something hurts so badly you can’t walk on it, don’t try to run on it. Trying to tough it out will only set your recovery back. A principle worth applying to almost any injury is the RICE treatement (rest, ice, compression and elevation). If the pain hasn’t disappeared the next day, don’t try to run on it. If symptoms persist, you need to see a sports injury specialist. You run the risk of an injury becoming chronic and much harder to treat if you leave it untreated for more than 48 hours.

Don’t run if the injury is causing you to limp or alter your stride. Doing so will create another running injury as your body compensates. It doesn’t do you any good to limp through a workout, and you’re most likely making your injury worse.

Run if it’s just soreness. If you’re sore after a hard or long run, you can generally run the next day if the soreness doesn’t worsen during a run. Usually minor muscle soreness disappears during a run as the muscles warm up. Stop running if the soreness worsens and pain develops. Never push through pain. It won’t make you tougher; it’ll make you injured.

You can run through heavy legs, when you learn to recognise the feeling of lactic acid build-up by experience, and the symptoms tend to come on gradually.

Gauge Your Pain. If it increases the more you run, that’s a major red flag that you should stop. However, if pain is low, a 3 out of 10 or less at the beginning of the run and is gone by the end of the run, or if pain is low during the run and is not aggravated by the activity, you may be able to continue. But make modifications, such as decreasing duration, incorporating run-walk intervals, or reducing hill or speed work.

Don’t use pain-killers or anti-inflammatories before a run. They just mask the pain and may make an injury much worse. If necessary, take them after the run.

Avoid hills, speed training, long runs and races when nursing a minor injury. All place too much stress on a sore or injured muscle and will aggravate any injury.

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 or rescheduling a few runs won’t have a significant impact on your training.

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. Reduce muscular inflammation with ice.

Re-Evaluate Regularly. If you’ve been running through the injury and not getting worse, but also not getting any better, you should have your problem area evaluated by a sports injury specialist. The more you stress the injury through its natural healing process, the more you delay healing. It’s one thing to delay healing, but if there is no progress and your performance declines, it’s time to have it checked out.

See a Specialist and Get Better Faster. With a proper diagnosis, and an appropriate treatment plan, you may still be able to continue running. Some injuries that might not keep you completely sidelined include Runner’s Knee, iliotibial band syndrome, piriformis syndrome, patella tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis.

Active Release Technique® and Graston Technique are two highly effective methods for treating soft-tissue injury, and also preventing formation of adhesions and scar tissue to help prevent future injury. Active Release Technique® stimulates repair and accelerates healing by restoring normal tissue texture and reestablishing full flexibility, balance and stability. What makes ART® different from physical therapy and other treatments is how it identifies and heals scar tissue adhesions that are interfering with normal strength and flexibility with precise, targeted movements, not simply stretching out the muscles. ART® is completely natural and non-invasive and can prevent the need for more invasive treatment.

At Jonas Chiropractic Sports Injury Care you receive a personal treatment plan geared to your training and recovery goals. As trained ART® providers we pinpoint the problem area and the underlying cause contributing to pain and injury. We are dedicated to keeping up with the most effective procedures that provide significant positive results, which include stretching, strengthening, manipulation, cardiovascular exercise, and other modalities to thoroughly cover all bases. Our multidisciplinary approach leaves no stone unturned. Our approach is as unique as you are.

Dr. Jon DeGorter is the USATF-Long Island Chair of the Sports Medicine Committee, and part of the Jonas Chiropractic Sports Injury Care team. Dr. Jon specializes in treating runners and triathletes — keeping athletes doing what they love to do.