Pushing through the pain is a source of pride for some runners, and most of us have experience with going for a run on a small ache. Running through soreness and ignoring pain are two very different issues, and it can lead to serious injury.
It can be very difficult to tell the difference between an everyday ache, possibly caused by a change in routine, and the start of a real injury. But with this guide, we can help you decide when to stop, and when to keep on going.
Should I Run If My Legs Are Sore?
Sore legs are a common part of running, and are likely to occur when you try a new routine, or push the pace up. Muscles that haven’t been used suddenly come into play, and your body has to adapt to a different tempo. It’s no surprise that there are some aches and pains the next morning.
Pain after a particularly difficult run is often the result of delayed onset muscle soreness, known as DOMS. This is caused by small tears in the muscle and can last for several days.
Although it isn’t pleasant, DOMS is rarely anything to worry about. In fact, it’s a necessity for improving your strength and endurance. As the muscles repair, they build back stronger. In this situation, continuing to exercise is a good idea, and shouldn’t cause any further harm.
In fact, soreness can actually benefit from a run! Light exercise and movement might improve the aches, even if it doesn’t feel that way at first.
Avoid pushing yourself, and keep exercising at an easy pace. Expect some aches and pains at first, but they should ease as you run.
Typically, DOMS shouldn’t worsen if you keep exercise light. However, if you find a run is making your soreness worse, take a few days from recovery.
If you plan on marathon running, or other long distance runs, you’ll probably have to get used to running through some soreness. But it’s important to know when pain might indicate another problem.
How Do You Know When To Stop Running With Sore Legs?
Determining the difference between everyday soreness and pain can be difficult. It’s important to listen to your body, rather than pushing through and hoping the pain will fade.
If you’ve tried to work through soreness, but exercise is making it worse, then you should take a break from running. Running may have led to inflammation, and it isn’t getting the opportunity to heal. By pushing through the pain, you’re only exacerbating the injury. Spend a few days resting, and ease back into running lightly.
Take note of your form as you run. Are you favoring one side to avoid putting pressure on the other? If this is the case, you should rest to allow the area to heal, and avoid causing an injury to the other leg.
Although it can be tricky to tell, you need to consider the kind of pain you’re feeling. Is it a general soreness, or is it a sharper pain? Where in the body can you feel pain?
Tendonitis or Achilles pain can cause swelling of the ankle and is not a pain you should run through. Rest and ice the injury, and speak to a doctor.
If you feel pain in your knee cap, or rubbing and grinding under the patella, you may be suffering from Patellofemoral Syndrome or Runner’s Knee. Stop exercising, and speak to a doctor.
When To Speak To A Doctor
A slight pain is unlikely to require a trip to a doctor, and will generally fade in a few days. However, ignoring an injury can cause the problem to worsen, to the point that you may require surgery. So, when exactly should you go to a doctor for aches when you run?
Speak to a doctor if you’ve tried resting the injury, and you see no improvement. If even light exercise seems to be exacerbating the issue, you should discuss with your doctor what might be causing the problem.
The doctor will then be able to provide you with a recovery plan that will give you time to heal, and ease you back into running.
If you experience serious, sharp pain as you run, speak to a doctor as soon as possible. Try pressing down in the sore area, to see if the pain is from the muscle or the bone. If the sore area is hard, the pain might be from a bone. This could be a stress fracture and will require several weeks to rest and heal. A doctor can help you with a recovery plan.
If you’re experiencing knee pain, or a rubbing sensation under the kneecap, then you should speak to a doctor. This can be a sign of Runner’s knee.
Patellofemoral syndrome, otherwise known as Runner’s knee, is a common condition that causes pain around the knee cap. Although it’s known as Runner’s knee, many forms of exercising can cause it. Runner’s knee is often a sharp pain in the front of the knee while exercising, and a dull ache.
Runner’s knee is typically treated with rest, ice, and light stretching. The recovery time is typically between 4 and 6 weeks.
To avoid Runner’s knee, a proper warm-up, well-fitting shoes, and the correct running form are necessary. Speaking to a physiotherapist can help to ensure you’re running correctly, and address any aches and pains from incorrect form.
Sore legs are common in running, particularly if you increase your pace or distance. In many cases, it’s fine to run on sore legs, and it may in fact help ease soreness.
However, if the pain is ongoing, and doesn’t fade with rest, then you should stop running, and contact a doctor.
All runners should be aware of their bodies and listen when they’re in pain. Running through pain is not a sign of strength, but an inability to listen and react. In the long term, you could be causing serious damage.
Running on sore legs is typically fine, but make sure not to exacerbate an issue.