How much pain is too much?Running Red Flags

08/13/2018

Some pain with running is totally normal - maybe even unavoidable. One such "adaptive pain" is shin pain (shin splints) which is common with beginning a new program or increasing training volume. Most runners have experienced this at one time or another. Since everyone has different levels of pain tolerance, how do we know what level of pain to run through, and when to slow down, rest, and seek treatment (either self treat or with a professional)?

Instead of relying on a pain rating ("don't run at a pain over 3/10") we can use Red Flag symptoms to gauge when to run and when to cut back. Everyone's "3/10" is different - Red Flags are the way to make the decision more objective. 

1. Pain that changes your gait pattern
Are you limping or leaning to avoid what hurts? This is the first sign that something is hurting a bit more than we should be trying to tolerate. 

2. Pain that keeps you up at night
Is your sleep disrupted? This is troublesome since we need to sleep to recover and heal, so if sleep is disturbed the injury is likely to linger longer. 

3. Pain that changes your daily activity
Avoiding stairs? Parking closer to the door? Not wearing the same footwear? Red Flag!

4. Pain that makes you take medication
Taking over-the-counter or prescription meds for running related pain is the most worrisome red flag. Not only are you just masking your symptoms, you are risking more serious damage to the injured area by not being able to feel the pain.

Have any of these red flags? Call our office for some FREE advice on how you can start treating your running injury on your own!