Running injuries are extremely common, but they can also be hard to identify. Not every runner knows the difference between “good” and “bad” pain, so they keep training while injured!
For some runners, pushing through the pain is a point of pride, but there are some serious consequences that go along with this bad habit.
Differentiating Between Muscle and Injury Pain
Let’s go back to the idea of “good” and “bad” pain. “Good” pain, while never actually good, is the kind of stiffness you may feel a day or two after increasing the length of your run or upping your training speed. It is not typically a stabbing pain and it should go away within a day.
Because running is such an intense sport, it’s easy to confuse the pain of an injury with non-damaging, post workout stiffness. But here are some clear differences between muscle soreness and injury pain:
- Injury pain is usually sharp; muscles that have just worked hard are usually tight or somewhat achy.
- Injury pain doesn’t typically go away after a day or two; tired muscles usually feel better quickly.
Untreated Running Injuries Make for Longer Recovery Times
While these differences are fairly clear cut, many runners take pride in “running through the pain,” thinking they can’t afford to take time off their training. Unfortunately, this can cause other problems down the road.
When you mistake injury pain for muscle soreness and continue your regular training program, your injury can get worse. Not only can you make your existing injury worse, you also increase the risk of sustaining new injuries as your body takes on unnatural positions to avoid putting pressure on the spots that are already hurt.
And do you know what that means?
When you do finally seek treatment for your injury, your recovery time is likely to be greatly extended. So, by training through discomfort, you’re actually setting yourself for taking a much longer break from your runs!
If Running Hurts, Seek Immediate Help
Because it can be so hard to identify the pain of a running injury, any pain should be viewed through the light of a potential injury. At the first sign of pain, take a day or two off running and see if you feel better.
If the problem goes away, get back out there and keep on training—as long as the pain doesn’t return.
If, however, the pain doesn’t improve with rest, or if your pain returns as soon as you get back to training, you’ve likely sustained an injury. At that point, it’s very important that you get into your podiatrist’s office quickly. Just remember: the sooner you treat a running injury, the sooner you can get back to your regularly scheduled training regimen!