Runners have one desire...to keep running. In fact, most runners delay coming to our Houston podiatry office. Why is that the case? Because they are afraid that I'll tell them to stop running!
Now, I get that, I really do. But it's backward thinking. And here's why: if you come in as soon as you feel pain? Before your problem becomes unbearable? We have so many more treatment options. Which means I probably won't have to tell you to stop running.
On the other hand, if you keep running through pain? You're putting more pressure on whatever is going on already. And the longer you do that, the worse things will get. So that, by the time you come in, I now have to tell you to stop running.
Want me to help you run again? Or heal from an injury without ever stopping? These are the steps you need to take.
When to Take a Running Break
There are of course some circumstances where you do absolutely have to take a break from running. These include stress fractures, fractures, tendon ruptures, and severe sprains.
Why is that the case? Continuing to run on these injuries is a recipe for disaster! The injury will worsen, possibly requiring surgery to repair and correct
What are the warning signs of these injuries? When it comes to a stress fracture, there are some clear symptoms. These include tender feelings in one area. You may also have a stress fracture if you experience pain when you put weight on your foot or ankle. And, with a stress fracture, you may also notice minor swelling around the injury.
Sometimes, stress fractures are subtle. But tendon ruptures and acute fractures really aren't. If your Achilles tendon ruptures, you may hear a popping sound. It could feel like someone just kicked you in the leg. And right after, your pain level will be severe. If there's any chance you've ruptured a tendon, you need to get immediate medical attention. Running won't be an option. And even walking will be almost impossible.
Fractures are a little tougher to recognize. You might be able to walk on a broken foot or ankle. (But doing so will hurt. And could make your injury worse.) The only way to diagnose a fracture acurately is with an X-ray. But warning signs include pain, bruising and difficulty bearing weight.
Training Through Injuries: When it's Safe to Run While You're Hurt
Now that I've gotten through worst-case scenarios, let's talk about injuries when you can still run. (As long as you train carefully, using my suggested modifications.)
When it comes to overuse running injuries, such as shin splints, heel pain, and Achilles tendonitis, I don't often have you stop running. Yes, you can still run when you're dealing with this kind of pain. But there are rules involved. And if you break them, you might end up getting benched from your runs entirely.
Here's the deal. First, you have to come see me as soon as possible if you want to keep training. That means, don't wait two weeks to see if things improve. Instead, if you notice running pain that shows up at least three training sessions in a row? It's time to make an appointment.
Why is that the case? If you're running through pain, without a diagnosis, you won't make the right modifications. That can make your injury worse. And if the injury becomes worse? You guessed it. There is a greater chance that you'll have to take a break from running when you finally come into the office.
What Can You Do to Help me Run Again? Running Injury Modifications
Even if you're allowed to run with an injury, your training sessions may not look exactly the same. One great option I'll always recommend? Try taking your jogs to the pool.
Working out in the water takes almost all the weight off your injured foot or ankle. That way, we know the injury won't get worse. At the same time, pool jogs allow you to keep up your cardiovascular fitness. In fact, you may be surprised to find that the force of the water adds an extra challenge to your training. So that, when you get back on land, your old training schedule may feel even easier.
Also, I'll want you to give yourself extra TLC between runs. If you've got plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis, stretching will be your new best friend. When you come in for your appointment, I'll show you the stretches you'll need to keep running through these injuries.
Icing can also help relive inflammation that comes with overuse injuries. If you have heel pain, I recommend keeping a water bottle in your freezer. At night, simply pop the bottle out of the freezer and roll it under the length of your foot, for no more than 20 minutes. This can help you relieve pain and inflammation. That way, running will feel less painful.
In some cases, I may also suggest taking NSAIDs daily. These non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Aleve or Aspirin, will relieve both pain and inflammation. That can help you get running again, without worsening your injury.
Get Running Again with your Podiatrist in Houston, TX
If you are already experience foot or ankle pain that is worse when you are running, it's time to take action. Training through pain without medical guidance is a recipe for disaster. (And is a sure fire way to end up with a stop-running order, once you do seek treatment.)
So, what's the best way to safely run through an injury? Or to get back into running after an injury like a fracture or tendon rupture? The recipe is simple: call Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston.
When you come in, I'll perform a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose the cause of your discomfort. Then, I'll recommend the best treatment to get you running pain-free. I'll do my best to keep you active throughout the recovery process. And I'll never tell you to stop running unless training would compromise your recovery and long-term health.