Running Pain - The Good and the Bad Feelings From Running
"And they say that this is good for you," my Dad always joked when he finished up a run. Running pain is inevitable when you push yourself to get in better shape. The question is, what pain should you ignore, and what pain should you not tolerate.
It doesn't matter if you are new to the sport, or if you have been running for a long time, you have to try to understand what your body is telling you. After 20 years of running, I still am learning about what my body can and can't handle. Every runner is different too. What works for me might not be the correct thing for your situation.
First, let me get one thing straight. I am not a doctor. I have never pretended to be a doctor, nor do I want to ever become one. You should always consult a physician when you start a running program. Also, whatever advise you get here from me should not be taken as a prescription for your problems. All I can do is offer up some information to steer you in the right direction.
One thing that has worked for me is changing my stride. Now, I use minimalist running shoes. I started this process when I read about ChiRunning. This isn't the perfect way to run, but it does have a lot of good points. Go to the link to learn more about how correcting your form and foot strike can prevent many common running injuries.
I have seen a lot of things in my days as a runner and coach. Some fairly typical running pain like shin splints and sore joints. Some strange injuries like a partially collapsed lung - Yikes. Luckily, we figured that one out without any medical emergency. Below is a list of some of the more common running aches and pains, and what you can do to prevent them from slowing you down.
1. The Side Stitch. This is really common when first getting into shape. It hurts, but this will happen less and less as you get into better shape. Doing core strength training can help to prevent a side stitch later.
2. Running Cramps. Getting a cramp is brutal! Especially in the middle of the night. Man that is scary. Find out what you can do to stop knots before cramps get into your muscles.
3. Even worse is getting leg cramps when running. There are a few things you can do if you cramp up during a run or a race.
4. Shin Splints creeping in? Those things burn, don't they? Check out some simple exercises you can do to help strengthen those little shin muscles so they don't tear on you.
5. Knee pain, also known as Runner's Knee. I have had arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Not because of running, but now I get knee pain if I do too much too fast. I have heard that Spira running shoes can help with this. I may try a pair of there shoes to see if I notice any difference. There are some other things you can do to try to prevent knee pain.
6. General Muscle Soreness. I hate to break it too you, but that is good news! Your muscles are sore because you are getting in great shape. Ice, heat, and massage are some of the things you can do to help relieve some of this pain. My vote is always with massage!
There are a lot of other things out there that can get hurt. My general rule of thumb for is general soreness is good. Sharp pain is bad! If anything is giving you a strong, sharp pain in a specific spot, STOP. It is better to be safe than sorry with a sharp running pain.
Once again, I am not a doctor. Make sure to consult with a physician before you start running, or if you have any questions about pain that you are experiencing.
David Tiefenthaler is the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.