Runners often feel pain come and go, sometimes very quickly. I tend to panic when I feel a pain in my shin or other area, and start thinking about the worst case scenario. Most often, the pain goes away just as quickly as it started. But what about the pains that don’t go away or get worse when running? How do you know when you’re on the brink of an injury? Here are some ways to determine whether your pain is just a little ache or a warning sign of a running injury. Listening to your body and paying attention to these signs can help you prevent a minor issue from turning into a full-blown injury.
1. The pain gets worse as you keep running.
We’ve all had those runs where something feels a little tight or uncomfortable when you start your run, but then it goes away after we’re warmed-up. If your pain feels the same or gets progressively worse as you continue running, stop running and take a few days off to see if you notice any improvement.
2. You’re changing your stride.
A minor ache or pain shouldn’t force you to limp or change your gait in any way when you’re running. If you’ve done your 5 to 10 minute warm-up before your run and your stride is still off, take a few days off from running and see if that makes a difference. Overcompensating when running can not only make your current injury worse, but it can also lead to new injuries in other areas.
3. It’s affecting your performance.
If you’re slow or sluggish and can’t figure out any reason why, give yourself some additional rest and recovery time. A short break from running may keep a minor issue from turning into a full-blown running injury. And you won’t lose fitness with just a couple days of rest.
4. The area is sore and swollen.
If you’ve recently done a long run or an intense workout, some muscle soreness after running is normal. But if there’s also swelling where you’re feeling pain, the inflammation is usually a sign that something’s not right. Get some ice on it (15-20 minutes every 3-4 hours) and rest for a couple of days.
5. You’re feeling pain even when you’re not running.
Is the pain causing you to limp when you’re just walking around or making it uncomfortable to sleep or sit for a long period of time? If that’s the case and you find that the pain is affecting your daily activities, you should get it checked out by a doctor.