We set out some golden rules to follow if you think you have an injury.
Let’s be honest. Most runners at some time or another will have a ‘niggle’ or an injury. It is important to recognise when this happens and know what steps to take. We are all guilty of thinking that it will be fine to carry on running when part of our body starts to hurt. We keep running and hope it will go away. However, pain is a warning shot and it is telling you to listen to your body.
Golden rule number one
If the pain is severe and is telling you to stop, then don’t ignore it. You may be out training or in the middle of a race. It doesn’t matter where you are, you must stop running and follow golden rule number three.
Golden rule number two
You can try running if the pain is less severe. If you can feel it when you are walking be cautious though. Rest is best. If you know the cause, and it’s not related to running, then you can try running to see how it responds. Niggling running injuries sometimes improve when you start running. However, if you do run on it and it still hurts when you walk the next day, listen to it and rest.
Golden rule number three
If your injury or niggle isn’t going away take five days rest. Five days may sound like a long time but you won’t lose fitness in this time. In fact you are more likely to come back and get fitter after a rest. You can find out how important recovery is to your fitness here. Five days will help your body heal. Resist the temptation to try it out after three days because you think it is getting better. If you run on it too soon you risk needing another five days rest. Be patient and enjoy the non-running time instead.
What happens if your injury doesn’t get better after five days rest?
If five days rest doesn’t cure your injury then it’s time to see a specialist. Choose someone who is qualified and experienced in running injuries. Beware of overstretching. Be guided by your physiotherapist but remember, if in doubt, rest is best.
Why you shouldn’t push through a niggling injury
Pain while you are running is your body warning you that you are doing too much or not having enough rest. Ignoring it and pushing through an injury is counterproductive. You can add an extra day to that five day rest time every time you run with an injury. Ultimately if you continue to run on a niggling injury your body will eventually shout at you to stop with something serious like a stress fracture.
Listen to your body. Be brave and acknowledge that you need to rest and recover. Your body is amazing. Give it a chance and it will heal and recover.