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Modifying Training While Injured

Tara Ridge, MS, PT

Runners should really start to pay attention to pain as an indicator of the presence of an injury.  So there can be good pain and bad pain that results from a running and training program. Good pain is expected pain, it happens as a result of a long run, an intense run with a lot of hills. Bad pain is joint pain, pain that will persist 2 to 3 days, pain that will interfere with their day to day activities, getting in and out of a car, going up and down the stairs, rising from a chair. 

Masking Pain

Runners can experience a runner’s high which is a result of endorphins that are released during aerobic activity, which can mask pain.  However when they have pain that persists for 2 to 3 days, pain that continues as they train, pain that continues despite modifications of their training program that really warrants an evaluation by a healthcare provider.    

Recovery Time

Eighty percent of running injuries are associated with overtraining and what’s really important to incorporate into a training program is adequate rest or recovery time. So the body lags behind and with repetitive stress the body needs an extra day to rest and recovery.  We do that with cross training, we do that with relative rest, actually no running and when runners continue through a training program without that what we see is a breakdown and injuries start to occur about the joints, particularly the hips, the knees and the ankles. 

Continuing Training

Runners can continue to train even if they experience a little bit of pain as long as they do not alter their mechanics when running and that they can find a threshold in which they can run below the pain. So for example they run less distance, they run a less challenging course and they incorporate an extra rest day.  So if incorporating those three factors allow them to continue to train without an increase in pain then it’s appropriate for them to do so.

Spectrum of Care

UPMC takes a multidisciplinary approach to the management of running injuries.  We have a team of professionals including primary care physicians, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, athletic trainers and we work together to provide care from the entire spectrum of an injury, from injury prevention to the rehabilitation to the return to sport.  Our goal is to provide the runner as well as any athlete with opportunities to maintain a training program and participate as long as possible.

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