10 effective ways to keep running through an injury

For any runner, running through an injury is a dilemma that you’ll face sooner or later.

This is because a running program is designed to stress your body to get it to respond and improve.

So during that stress and recovery cycle, it’s possible that the stress may lead to inflammation and injury.

Once you experience the early signs of a niggle, it’s important that you don’t stop training completely.

That often amplifies the causes of the injury and makes things worse in the long run. You can read more about that here.

So you’re then faced with the choice: either back off your training or continue running through an injury.

Running through an injury

Depending on the injury and the injured area, there’s often away you can modify your training and continue running through an injury without losing training volume.

But keep a close eye out for the warning signs of accrued fatigue and overload as it’s often a precursor to injury.

You’ll notice signs like sore/black toenails, very sore hip muscles, ankle pain or blisters on your feet (click on the issue to read more about its causes and fixes).

If you’ve got any of those issues, you may need to temporarily reduce your volume in addition to the tweaks mentioned below.

Here’s a list of common running injuries and ways that you can modify your training to keep running through an injury.

Click on the injury to get more detailed information about it.


Running injuries and modifications to training

Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is a painful reaction inside the Achilles tendon.

This injury actually prefer more regular running rather than having extended breaks.

It’s just one example of when running through an injury is your best approach.

Modification

Switch to running 5 to 7 days a week and reduce your distance per session to maintain your weekly running distance (eg. 3 x 12km = 36km/week, which becomes 6 x 6km to maintain 36km/week.)


ITB syndrome

ITB syndrome is caused by a poorly controlled inwards rotation of the leg, usually due to muscle fatigue.

If you can improve leg rotation control, the injury typically settles down and resolves.

Modification

Reduce the effect of fatigue by adding a 2 minute walk break after every 6 to 8 minutes of running.

Improve leg biomechanics by running slightly faster than your current pace – read more about how this works here.

You can also instantly improve your leg control with the addition of Low Dye taping or soft orthotics.


Plantarfasciitis

Plantar fasciitis can be the results of ankle or calf tightness, poor stability and/or poor choice of footwear.

It can be difficult to monitor as it often warms up after the first few kilometres of running.

Modification

You can instantly improve plantarfasciitis by supporting it with Low Dye taping to keep your running through an injury.

Move your sessions away from grass and onto hard surfaces (helps improve foot stability.)

Move your sessions to flat ground and away from hills.


Shin splints

Shin splints covers a broad range of injuries and then each got slightly different modifications.

Whether you should continue running through an injury really depends on the underlying diagnosis of your shin splints.

Three most common types of shin splints are tibial bone stress injury, tibial periostitis and chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

Modifications

Tibia bone stress injury: reduce your training session distance so that your symptoms resolve sooner after each run and avoid downhill running.

Tibial periostitis: start each run with a 5 minute brisk walk to allow the pain to ease and avoid hard downhill running.

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome: add in a 2 minute walk break every 6 to 8 minutes to allow the compartment pressure to ease during the run.


Proximal hamstring tendinopathy

Proximal hamstring tendinopathy is often a chronic injury so any improvements are gradual.

You can keep running through an injury but you need to maintain some consistency in your approach to detect results.

Modification

Reduce fast and uphill running for a few weeks.

Add in some gentle running drills at the start of each session to improve tendon bounce.


Calf muscle overload

Calf muscle overload often feels like deep pain and tightness through the calf area.

These symptoms can often get mixed up with the symptoms of tibial bone issues so it’s worth confirming the diagnosis if it’s not improving.

Modification

Move your hill training onto stairs and ensure you place your whole foot on the step (not just your toes).

Use cross training every third day instead of running to give your calf muscles time to recover.


Deep hip rotator overload

Literally a pain in the bum, this injury is often a sign that your training beyond your current capacity.

You can read about the injury in detail here.

Modification

Where possible, some of your training onto technical trails as this provides more variety for the deep hip rotator muscles.

Switch your tempo or continuous running into an interval format with faster running and regular breaks.


Patellar tendinopathy

Patellar tendinopathy is a gradual onset injury and shouldn’t be mixed up with Osgood Schlatters disease or patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Modification

Avoid downhill or stair running – if there is a hill on your regular run, turn around and run down backwards to take all pressure away from the tendon.

For trail running, stay away from technical trail whenever possible.


FAI

Hip impingement can be tricky because it can trigger in slightly different positions for everyone.

Modification

Avoid any significant hills as these are associated with increased hip movement.

Reduce your fast paced running to a level that feels comfortable and doesn’t trigger the injury.


Lower back pain

Running through an injury like lower back pain really depends on avoiding specific cause of your issue.

Commonly this relates to hip movement or muscle overload.

But running through an injury is possible, just be cautious if your back pain affects your running technique.

Modification

Reduce the pace and duration of your run to reduce the chance of a cumulative muscle overload.

Avoid hilly runs as they often force hip movement and cause pressure on the back.