“My knee feels funny, should I keep running?”
“Hmmm, my hip feels icky…I’ll just finish the last 2 miles of my 12 mile training run.”
These are the thoughts that go through my athletes heads when something just doesn’t feel ‘right’ during training. And more often than not, athletes push through the discomfort to make sure they ‘finish their run’. Listening to their bodies seems foreign and takes a back seat when following their training schedule. Don’t get me wrong…commitment to and consistency in following your training schedule is the key to success in your race…but not at the expense of an injury. […]
I like to educate my athletes on what is considered to be ‘acceptable’ pain and what is ‘unacceptable’ pain. If you’re an athlete and training consistently for races, niggles are commonplace and inevitable when you are putting your body through the daily challenges of training. As your body adapts to these challenges, you get stronger and more endurant. However, sometimes, when you’re body feels ‘pain’, this is a signal or alert system that something is not right. Listen to this alert system and trust that you may need to back off. There is a buffer between where your body feels ‘pain’ and when ‘tissue injury’ actually happens (i.e. hamstring strain, Achilles tendonitis, etc.). But pain is your first signal to tell you to back off. If you don’t back off and decide to push through this pain, that’s when tissue injury may happen…and set you back in your training for weeks.
Here are some guidelines I give my athletes that may help you decide whether to continue your training run or stop the next time you feel pain…
- A pain level of 4 or below on a scale of 0-10 DURING the activity.
- A pain level of 4 or below on a scale of 0-10 during the 48 HOURS AFTER the activity.
- No limping or deviations in form during the activity.
- A pain level of 5 or above on a scale of 0-10 DURING the activity.
- A pain level of 5 or above on a scale of 0-10 during the 48 HOURS AFTER the activity.
- Limping or alterations in form during the activity.
If what you’re feeling falls in the ‘ACCEPTABLE’ category, you may continue with the activity that you are doing. If you are having pain, even though it’s below a 4 out of 10, it is recommended that you do not perform the activity on consecutive days in order to allow you body some recovery time in between so as to not overload the tissues.
If what you’re feeling falls into the ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ category, it is recommended that you do not continue with the activity and seek professional medical advice from a physical therapist or sports chiropractor who can help coach you through alternative ways to continue training and recovery from your injury. The worst thing you can do is push yourself so much past pain that you incur a tissue injury that sidelines you from your training. A physical therapist who works with athletes regularly will guide you in which exercises you should be doing at home to help you recover quickly as well as provide you with a structured schedule to train and exercise so that you don’t exacerbate your injury.
The next time you’re out for a run and not feeling quite right, use these guidelines to help you decide whether or not it’s worth it for you to continue. If you are struggling with pain that is persistent and you just can’t shake, just click on the button below and we’ll get someone on the phone with you right away to help you make the best decision of what to do next.