“My knee is hurting after my long run yesterday.
IS IT SAFE TO RUN?”
It’s one of the biggest questions I hear.
As training plans ramp up this fall, it’s imperative you have a good answer to keep you running. Most injuries come from how you adapt your training to handle the aches and pains along the way.
Don’t get me wrong, the latest trend on how to injury proof your knees or back is well worth your time but training error is the elephant in the room that may sit on you if ignore him.
Here is an example. You’ve just completed your first 10 miler in your ½ marathon training program and your knee is starting to hurt more. Should you still run? The answer is seldom simple but there are two extremes I treat that can send you to the sidelines quick.
“My knee felt painful after my long run so I took 6 weeks off.”
During your 6 weeks off you tried your own cocktail of conservative treatments prescribed by Dr Google such as glute bridges, IT band stretches, foam rolling and the list goes on. Maybe you even tried physical therapy or your chiropractor. However, after 6 weeks you go back to running and the knee pain is still there or maybe even worse. Why is this? It’s likely that you have lost much of the timing, coordination, or tissue strength that are specific adaptations of running that you were building. That is why you can spend your time working on a strong foundation (which is important) and it still not translate into helping you run with less pain.
“Well I know that running is supposed to hurt so I just kept running. Pain is weakness leaving the body right?”
Not exactly. It’s a neurological output from the brain telling you either there could be or there is threat in the body. The problem is that our bodies don’t move, strengthen, or stretch well when pain is factored in. Continuing to ignore the warning signs often exacerbates the injury or cause stress to other tissue and can eventually limit the ability to keep pushing through it.
Here are a few guidelines that may help you know if it is safe to run.
- Is it a new ache or pain that last into the next day walking or running?
- Does it go over a 3 out of 10 on a pain scale where 10 is emergency room quality pain and 0 is no pain?
- Does it cause you to limp or change your walking or running form?
If you answer yes to these questions take two days off. During the two days off of running, gently stretch, foam roll, and do light nonpainful cross training (i.e. bike, pool, walking, etc.) Most inflammatory processes settle down over two days. After 2 days go out for an easy run. Don’t push through pain greater than 3 out of 10 or any limping or change in form. Build your distance back as you are able.
If you have any difficulty following these guidelines call me. Otherwise, hope to see you on the road!
Troy Ketchum PT, OCS, COMT
Results Physiotherapy Gunbarrel North
1736 Gunbarrel Rd Suite B
Chattanooga, TN 37421