Most long-distance runners know the frustration of a sports injury interrupting the training process. If you experience runner’s knee or any other condition, it’s critical to seek medical help immediately. The following advice from physical therapists and coaches can help as well.

Taking a break to curb knee pain

If you feel something in your body that isn’t quite right while you are training, the first step is to simply wait it out for 24 to 36 hours. If you feel okay at that point, try another run. If running doesn’t cause a flareup, you should be all right, says Colorado physical therapist Christy Barth. “If you limp or notice a change in your gait, however,” she adds, “ you need to stop and address the issue.”

If you have knee pain that feels more like soreness than a real injury, cut back on the amount that you run for a couple weeks, according to Wisconsin physical therapist Bryan Heiderscheit, PhD. Avoid any sprint drills during that recovery period as well.

Another tactic that can work it is to modify running for a few days so that it isn’t exacerbating the situation. If you’re suffering from runner’s knee, for instance, it can help to shorten each stride so that each impact is less intensive. It’s also good to apply a cold compress if you have any acute inflammation.

Sports injury recovery

If you would rate your pain at a 5 or more on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s probably a good idea not to run. Based on your doctor’s recommendations, though, it might make sense to continue with another aerobic exercise such as biking or swimming.

“The standard prescription is to translate your planned run workout into an equal routine using another lower impact activity,” said Colorado running coach Adam St. Pierre. An example would be switching out 5 miles of running for an hour of bicycling.

The key point is not to overdo it as you are returning to your pre-injury level of activity. Also, it might not make sense to return to your previous game plan: the injury may be a sign that your training plan needs to build up more slowly.

The typical accepted idea is that you can increase the number of miles you run 10% per week. Your medical team can give you advice based on the status of your injury and how much time you have been recuperating.

Be cautious with any injuries

If you don’t take enough of a break when you experience an injury, the damage could become chronic. At Advanced Wellness and Rehab, we can help you appropriately manage a sports injury so that you can heal and continue training pain-free. Our team of chiropractors and physical therapists has specific training in evaluating and treating the injuries and ailments of athletes. Learn more.