It can be hard sometimes to know whether or not to continue running when an injury strikes.
The type, degree and stage of the injury will all play a part in the decision whether to run or not.
When to stop
1. An acute injury
The initial 48-72 hours hours are very important in the longer term management of an injury. Controlling the inflammation (swelling) is very important in this phase by following the RICE principle.
2. An injury which has inflammation
We can sometime gets a flare up of a chronic problem (e.g Achilles tendinopathy) through no obvious mechanism of injury. In these flare ups there is quiet often a local acute inflammatory response to some sort of excessive load. Signs of inflammation include swelling, pain, redness and heat in the area that is constant, aching, and worse at night or in the morning for longer than half an hour.
3. An injury that is affected by impact/weight-bearing
Where weight bearing makes the pain or swelling worse!
Running on irritated tissue may increase the inflammatory process and delay healing by stressing the tissue inappropriately. This may mean the injury hangs around longer, which will affect training in the long term – so managing it well in the early days is helpful for a more swift recovery.
Furthermore, an injury that is painful when running and doesn’t improve when continuing to run is best dealt with by slowing down, having a walking period, or stopping, as it may be a sign that the area is becoming strained.
Continuing running could either exacerbate the injury or affect the rest of the kinetic chain so that there is a higher chance of injuring a different body part due to a compensated running style.
A common and simple example would be running on a blistered foot causing an alteration in foot strike position, this then can alter forces generated through the foot and up the lower limb (as well as whole body) and subsequently increasing the risk of injury.
When to run
However, it may be okay to run with an injury if it is at an appropriate stage of healing and it does not directly influence form, it can be adequately supported for the run (e.g with rigid or dynamic tape, brace, compression, shoe inserts) or is a type of injury that will tolerate running but under specific requirements.
In fact, where possible it is better to continue with at least some running so that deconditioning doesn’t occur and rehabilitation is more speedy.
It is best to seek professional advice on this as all injuries are different and can be in varying stages of recovery. Check with your health care professional or contact us for assessment & advice at Sydney Sports & Orthopaedic Physiotherapy.
When it is ok to run following an injury, it is best to follow a graded return to running programme under specific advice. This will help rehabilitate the injury properly and minimise the risk of flare up of that injury or of any other older injuries elsewhere in the body.
Sydney Sports and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy was established in 2007 with the aim to provide a high quality service in injury rehabilitation using state-of-the art technology in an innovative environment.
Their team of highly qualified and caring physios, led by founder and Managing Director Brad McIntosh, can do a running analysis and provide advice & assessment for the very best outcome. Call them on (02) 9252 5770 for more information, or visit their website http://sydneyphysiosolutions.com.au/
Brad and the SSOP team are also our injury prevention experts for the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival so send them your questions at Ask a Physio and they’ll help you achieve your goals and get you over the finish line!