Neil Featherby: To run or not to run - that is the question when injury strikes

No runner wants to stop running but sometimes you have to give your body a rest, says Neil Featherby

No runner wants to stop running but sometimes you have to give your body a rest, says Neil Featherby. Picture: Archant - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk.

I don't think there is day go by without speaking to people about running injuries as just about every single person who walks through our door at Sportlink has some kind of running related niggle, ache, pain, strain or whatever else you want to call it.

However, there is a word that runners hate, when the pain goes beyond a niggle – injury.

Be it the beginner who has only been running for a few weeks and is now gripped by the addiction which goes with our favourite pastime or the more experienced athlete who has been running for years, coming to terms with being hurt and taking an enforced rest is not an option until we really do have to.

The problem is that once we become aware of a potential injury, the first reaction is to try to ignore it in the hope it will go away.

After that it is a visit to see us or any other experts whereby they can ask all sorts of questions and hope to buy products which will keep them on the road before accepting the inevitable which if it has been allowed to become a full blown injury can only mean one thing… rest!

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We hate that word too and none more so than me. Having run every day for 36 years, does that mean I have not been injured or even ill?

Yes, of course I have, including three days in hospital, but I still got out and ran. Without a doubt crazy, but as already mentioned, it's an addiction!

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MORE: Why you must think carefully about your running goals immediately after an eventSo when do we need to stop and how do we need to recognise the signs before it is too late?

Well, firstly be aware of what is just a little ache and what could potentially turn into something far worse.

Ease back for a couple of days as it is better to do that than end up hobbling around for weeks on end.

If you return from a run with what is most definitely pain in a joint, muscle or indeed bone particularly when weight bearing, then it is most definitely time to take immediate action.

If you wake up the next day and it is just as sore, then make an appointment with one of the many well-known sports therapists and physiotherapists that we have in our region so they can not only treat, but most importantly give you a diagnosis of what the injury actually is.

For niggles that have gone on for some time, but just won't clear up, then you seriously should consider just taking a few days' rest.

If you can't do that then perhaps a change of surface will help. Check your shoes for signs of degradation and breakdown and abnormal wear patterns.

MORE: Runners must take precautions against the warmer weatherPerhaps see an expert with regards to biomechanics in respect of any weakness whereby through training of specific muscle groups you can not only strengthen those weaker areas, but increase your range of movement.

This is an article which I really do wish I had ten times the designated space to write about as in truth none of us wants to stop running.

In a nutshell if it hurts whilst running, or when we finish and the following day, then stop and get some treatment.

If it is a case of some aches and pains which wear off during the course of a run, then make sure you warm down thoroughly and just ice any affected area for up to 15 minutes.

If we constantly feel tired and heavy legged and feel that when running we are stuck in the wrong gear, just back off or reduce training by at least 50pc for seven to 10 days.

Not only will this reduce the risk of injuries, but over training can also result in much more than an injury.

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