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Running Through Pain: When You Should Stop

December 29th, 2021 | 3 min. read

Running Through Pain: When You Should Stop
Mike Eskridge

Mike Eskridge

PT, MSPT, Founding Partner

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Many runners know what it is like to run through pain. You wake up in the morning with a sore knee, but you go out and run anyway because usually, your pain goes away after a minute. But what if it doesn’t go away? What if you seriously injure yourself because you do not know when to stop? 


This is a valid fear. Many of our running clients at EW Motion Therapy have had injuries, some of which have forced them to find a new way of working out for a while. Our movement specialists help runners build a treatment plan to address injuries when they occur and prevent future injuries by providing education on when they should stop running through the pain. 


This article will discuss when it is ok to run through pain, warning signs for common running injuries, and tips on recovering. With this information, you can employ safe running practices and prevent injury as much as possible. 


When should I run through pain? 

So what pain is ok to run through? It depends on how severe the pain is, where it is coming from, and whether it affects your form. The golden rule among running experts is that if the pain you’re having warms out in ten minutes, meaning it has reduced by about 90%, you are good to go. It is common to wake up with a sore knee or ankle, and this kind of pain will usually decrease as you move. But, if the pain intensifies as you run, you need to stop altogether. 


Another good standard to follow is the 20-minute run test. You should typically run for 20 minutes straight without pain if you run regularly. If you can run for ten minutes, but your pain becomes too intense to continue, then you need to stop and seek professional help. 


Warning signs of running injuries 

The most common running injuries are stress responses of muscles that are undertrained and suddenly overworked. Shin splints is a prevalent injury among runners, as is IT band syndrome. Both are stress responses. Shin splints comes from your shin (as the name implies) and is the result of your anterior tibialis becoming overworked. Similarly, pain from IT band syndrome can begin in either your knee (distal) or your hip (proximal), depending on which part of the iliotibial band is stressed and inflamed. 


Both of these injuries will heal within about eight weeks if given time to recover, but other running injuries, like Achilles tendonitis, can start as a little bit of pain but can grow into much bigger problems. This is why it is so important to not attempt to run through something that is gradually getting worse. 


How should I recover? 

Now you know more about when you can run through pain and when you should not run through pain. Recovery is just as essential to a runner’s routine, and if you do not give yourself the space to heal properly, there is a chance your pain will worsen and develop into something more serious. 

When you listen to your body’s cues, you can run with confidence and reduce your risk of injury. At EW Motion Therapy, we coach our runners on improving form and reducing injury risk so they can run for a lifetime. If you are interested in our EW Run program, fill out the Request an Appointment form on our website, and someone from our staff will contact you within 48 hours with your next steps.


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