No runner wants to deal with pain, but it comes with the sport. As a runner, you know that physical pain from sore muscles, overuse injuries, poor foot strike or other common strains often rears its head at the most inopportune times. In honor of Global Running Day, check out our runner’s guide to prevent pain to help you get back on the pavement faster.
Runner’s pain 101
Injuries happen. Whether we’re injury prone and trip over our feet at the starting line or we overtrain and face strains and tears in the middle of a race, all runners feel pain.
That pain doesn’t care how badly we want to improve our form. It doesn’t care that we’ve got our training schedules down to a science. And it doesn’t care that we wake up and smell a PR in that morning’s race.
All it wants us to do is stop running. It is happy to be the enemy of every runner and can quickly lead us to doubt, worry, overtrain or undertrain. It can also lead us to long bouts of recovery if we don’t strive to outsmart it.
Top 4 common running pains
We can catch most injuries before they become more serious if we listen to our bodies and adjust our training accordingly. Remember: you don’t have to follow a training schedule to the letter of the law. It’s perfectly normal – and expected – to make adjustments as needed and to grow from there.
In this runner’s guide to prevent pain, let’s look at 4 of the most common running pains that dare to keep us off the pavement (and the hills, tracks, trails or treadmills):
#1) Hip pain
Hip flexors are a collection of muscles that allow you to move your leg or knee up towards your torso. These muscles also allow you to bend forward at the hip. It’s quite easy for runners to strain these muscles when you move suddenly.
Tendinitis can set in when tendons become irritated. This causes inflammation as well as pain and tenderness around your hip joints. It’s common to experience such pain when you:
- add mileage to your runs
- increase your speed
- run on hills
How to prevent hip pain
- Do a proper warm-up before running. This includes a variety of movements that specifically target your hips.
- Include strength training as part of your regular workout routine.
- Focus on strengthening exercises that target not only your hips but also your core and your glutes. These muscles collaborate to help you get stronger, run faster, provide balance and avoid injury.
- When you notice pain, address it immediately. We all push ourselves as runners, but it’s important to recognize when your body needs a rest day.
- Work on proper running form.
- Invest in supportive shoes that absorb shock.
- Do a proper cool-down as well. Make sure to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Looking for hip flexor stretches? Check out this video:
How to treat hip pain
- Rest: Give your body some time to rest. Adjust your running schedule now to ensure your injury doesn’t get worse. Taking time off can actually help you run stronger and recover faster.
- Ice: Apply a reusable ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes. This will help alleviate pain and reduce swelling in your muscles. Repeat this every 3-4 hours over the next few days.
- Compression: Try wearing compression shorts or wrapping the affected area lightly with a bandage. This will help you manage further swelling.
- Elevation: Further reduce the chance of swelling by elevating your leg as often as possible. Make sure it’s higher than your heart.