It is easy for runners to be stubborn or be in denial about injury. Many have pushed through pain longer than they would like to admit. Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between soreness and pain. While not every injury is experienced the same for each person, it is important to recognize signs that it could be time to take a day off and potentially seek professional help. While we preach consistency, we know that consistency comes from continued health. Sometimes that means it is better to give yourself a day of rest or a day of cross training rather than pester an injury beyond tolerance. Here are a few sure signs to be careful of when you feel pain/irritation.
Your running form is being compromised.
When your running form is being altered due to pain, not only are you running the risk of further irritation, you are also running the risk of triggering another injury by compensating. For example, it is very common for runners who are dealing with plantar fasciitis to step very gingerly on one side. Those cautious steps lead to loading other muscles with more than their normal tolerance. Like any change, a muscle needs time to adapt. While adapting to a sudden increase in load, it is likely going to become irritated. Not only have you just created a new, less efficient running form for yourself, but you are now potentially causing additional problems.
Your pain increases the longer you run.
There can be soreness and tightness that just needs additional warm up time prior to a run. Often when we are fatigued or sore from a previous workout, common problem areas need a little extra attention. However, when pain increases the more time you spend on feet, you are likely causing more damage than good.
Reoccurring pain that continues even when the run has concluded.
If you have pain that seems to be constant even when the run finishes and you are just walking around, maybe it is time to give your legs a day off. This is often the sign that you have perhaps pushed things a little too far. If you are at this point, it is time to find the source of the problem.
While we cannot give you the perfect answer on how to manage your pain, we hope these three signs will help you make a more intelligent decision on when to rest and seek help. Remember a few days off is better than a few weeks or more of no running.