Do I run or do I rest. . . That is the question!
If you run on a regular basis or are training to compete (St. Jude Marathon anyone?) you have likely experienced a flare up of pain or aches that nag at you. This is when a little bit of anxiety creeps in.
Does this mean you’re going to miss out on your social run this week?
Will you have to cut down your favorite exercise or training program?
How will you mange life's stress without the endorphin rush that comes with running?
When you experience these fears you are not alone! Runner's World estimates that 66% of runners carry an injury at any given time. And nearly all of them worry that heaviness, fatigue, or cramp may becomes something more serious.
So, what is the BEST next step?
How do you decide if it's time to run through the discomfort or time to rest?
You can keep running if…
You ran yesterday and experienced a pain, let's say in your knee or ankle. When you wake up the next day you wonder if you should take your morning run. If at that time there is no "pain" that's affecting you, then you're good to run! Don't worry about what happened yesterday, but be aware if it returns.
Often, pain starts during a run. Does it stop hurting if I reduce my speed or stride length or change my running surface or stop and stretch? If a simple adjustment in your running stops it then again it’s a good sign.
Finally, if you have a muscle ache all through your legs or they feel heavy, it may just be fatigue. In this case, it's up to you. A rest day may in fact improve performance, but running will not likely cause further injury.
You should rest if…
During a run you feel a sharp pain come on that doesn’t ease off, even when you slow down. It's time for a rest and it's best to apply ice right away in 10 minute intervals to calm down the problem.
Pain in a specific location of a previous injury is a red flag as well. This could be an exacerbation of a chronic injury or one not completely dealt with. In this case, it's best to rest and get help to prevent an injury from reoccurring.
Finally, if you experience sudden swelling, a joint locking or giving way, severe pain, tingling, numbness, or pain along the bone itself you should stop and give us (or your healthcare practitioner) a call.
REST is NOT a Four Letter Word
If you find it is time to rest instead of run, do not be discouraged. A lot of our body’s adaptations and strengthening actually occurs when we rest.
Why do runners seem to dread rest so much when it's an essential part of the training process? In fact, a carefully selected rest day can make all the difference in your performance!
If you choose not to rest when it's needed, you run the risk of an injury becoming chronic. If you rest and self treat at home, but the pain doesn't go away in 48-72 hours, it's time to seek some professional help.
The more time that passes, the harder any injury is to treat. Ever wonder how professional athletes get back to training so quickly after an injury. One major factor is that aches and pains are addressed sooner rather than later.
When it comes to your health, fitness and running lifestyle, it’s important to listen to expert advice. Request a Free Call with a doctor of physical therapy to ensure you are resting when you need to and pushing yourself appropriately to reach your goals.
Find out if your concerns require some hands on attention. That way you can be sure to get back to running much quicker and safer like you deserve! Click the link below to request a call . . .