Healthy You - Every Day

Normal Running Aches and Pains or a Sign of Something More?

When it’s time to see a doctor

Aches and pains

Running is a great form of exercise with numerous health benefits. But, like any form of exercise there is also risk for injury. It’s normal to experience minor aches and pains. However, it’s important to know when to see a doctor.

“Many runners will put off calling a doctor because they don’t want to be sidelined,” says physical therapist Sean Phillips, with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) Rehabilitation Services. “But the sooner you are seen with an injury, the faster you will be back to running.”

Treat running-related pain at home

Running is a high-impact activity, which can put a lot of strain on your body. Phillips says in some cases it may be safe to run through pain. “Occasionally you may have some pain that lessens as you run. If that’s the case, it’s fine to treat your pain and continue,” he says.

Phillips says some examples of pain you may be able to treat yourself include sore muscles, side stitches, minor cramps or minor joint pain. If you experience any minor aches or pains, Phillips suggests the RICE self-treatment method.  

  • Rest – Take a few days off from running and give your body a break.
  • Ice – Apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every four to six hours.
  • Compression – Wrapping the area with a compression bandage can limit swelling and provide some pain relief.
  • Elevate – Keep your injured body part elevated, above your heart if possible. You can generally do this by lying flat and using pillows.

If the pain becomes intolerable, you should stop running immediately and seek medical care.

Signs you should see a doctor

Not all running-related injuries can be treated at home. In some cases, you need to see a doctor. Phillips says some examples of pain you shouldn’t ignore include:

  • Severe pain in a joint or bone
  • Pain that is sensitive to touch
  • Significant swelling at the injured area
  • Difficulty moving the injured area
  • Any type of numbness, tingling or weakness

If you experience any of the symptoms above, Phillips suggests making an appointment with an orthopedic physician or visiting LVHN Injury Center– Hecktown Oaks for immediate care.

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

The region’s leader in joint, spine and orthopedic care gets you moving again.

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