A blog by runners. For runners.

The dreaded twinge: what to do when you feel an injury coming on

What to do when you feel an injury coming on

If you’ve been running for a month or even 20 years, you might know what I’m talking about here. You are happily plodding along your favorite route and then you feel it. A twinge. It’s not quite pain, but certainly different. In a few steps, you feel it again. And then – sadly – again. This time it starts to occupy your mind.

Are you injured? Should you keep going? Well, I like to think of running as a cooperative effort between my body and my mind. So, it’s ever-important to listen to the messages your body sends you. When yours is talking, here’s what to do at the very first sign that injury might be on the horizon.

Don’t feel doomed
Resist the initial freakout stage where you assume you’ll have to stop running for weeks or months just because you feel something a bit off in your left knee. Most often little aches and pains are totally normal and resolve on their own. And we all get them. However, it’s still important to treat something different with weight to keep it from getting worse.

Stop and drop
If you feel the twinge over and over again in the same run, it might be worth cutting your workout short and heading home for a good stretch. While you’re at it, think about your training in the last week or month. Have you been running more days than normal or skipping rest (recipe for body burnout)? Have you been physically busy otherwise? Many running aches and pains can actually be attributed to non-running activities like playing tennis, moving boxes, or lifting your toddler the wrong way.

. . . and roll
A foam roller can be a great way to work out aches and pains in addition to stretching. Once you learn the basics, you can use this tool to your advantage and keep your body running smoothly for years to come. In addition, adding yoga to your routine once or twice a week can be immensely helpful with keeping injuries at bay.

Ice it, baby
If you know you have IT band pain or other inflammation issues, get on your icing regimen. The more you can control in the early stages, the less chance it will keep you sidelined. Try 10-12 minutes of ice on, alternating with 10-12 minutes off for a few cycles. It may help to cover the ice pack with a washcloth so it’s not too cold on your skin.

If the twinge gets better with a little rest and retooling – great! If it persists, though, you may want to take an extended break from running and replace with another cardio activity like walking, biking, or swimming. That word “extended” isn’t as serious as it sounds because one week (or even a few days) can make all the difference if you follow the rest of the tips in this guide. (Read more about cross-training for runners)

Written by  Ashley Marcin.