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Running through pain

Learn when it's ok to run through pain and when you should stop...

When runners come to see us for running injuries, we try as hard as we can to keep them running. Generally, there are a lot of ways to manage pain and running injuries that can allow runners to safely continue with their training. In fact, some injuries don't respond well to rest anyway.

With that being said, why not see a healthcare provider who specializes in running right away? A running specialist can make a big difference. Not only can they help manage the injury, but typically they will also find the root cause of the injury. This can lead to decreased injuries in the future, better performance, and improved running longevity.

Try to view pain or injury as a check engine light. Get it checked as soon as possible to avoid it becoming a huge, expensive, and time-consuming problem. If you're afraid to get it checked because you don't want someone to tell you to stop running, you're probably not seeing the right healthcare professional (hint hint: come see us!).

Until you can get in to see a running specialist, here are some general AND specific guidelines you can follow to help you make the decision on whether to run.

General guidelines

When deciding whether you should run through injury, there are some general guidelines you can follow. If the following are true, you are most likely ok to run for the day.

  • You can walk 15 minutes briskly without pain.

  • You have no pain at rest.

  • You have no swelling.

  • You can perform a single-leg squat with no pain and no compensation.

  • You can perform a single-leg hop with no pain and no compensation.

specific Guidelines

Tendon pain

It is often ok to continue to train through tendon injuries. Tendon pain that you rate as 1-4/10 pain while running is acceptable. We have some recommendations, however. Tendons will typically hurt during the first few minutes of a run and then return as you get further into the run. If the pain is >2/10, the pain is getting worse, or you have pain with activities outside of running, we highly recommend that you see a professional before continuing to run.

As was mentioned before, if the injury is being managed correctly, you often don't have to miss any training. Don't let it get to the point that it sidelines you. See a running specialist, find the root cause, and prepare for better runs to come!

Stress Fractures

It's not easy to recognize a stress fracture but it's definitely not something you want to miss. Running through a stress fracture can lead to a full fracture, which is much more serious. Sometimes, surgery becomes necessary.

Although it takes a image to diagnose a stress fracture, there are some signs and symptoms that we look for when determining when to stop running. For stress fractures in the lower leg (shin and foot), pain at rest, pinpoint tenderness (it's tender to touch right where you feel the pain when you walk/run), and swelling is a red flag. If this is the case, we recommend seeing the appropriate healthcare provider before continuing to train.

Stress fractures in the back, pelvis, hip, and thigh can be easier to miss. There are a lot of healthcare professionals who miss these, as well. At Omega Project, if we have any remote suspicion, we highly recommend further imaging from an orthopedist before you continue running. This is because these stress fractures are high risk. This means that if they are missed and you continue to run through them, they can become very serious fractures. Some signs and symptoms we look out for are the following:

  • pain in the pelvis, hip or thigh that is hard to locate and/or moves around (i.e. you may be unsure if it's coming from the back of your thigh or front)

  • pain at rest

  • inability to perform a single leg squat or single leg hip without compensation and pain

  • pain that has not responded to standard treatment

(Note: It takes >2 weeks for a stress fracture to show up on an X-Ray, so it's not a useful tool for ruling out stress fractures)

When coming back from a stress fracture, you should have no pain at the area of the injury. You can read more about recovering from stress fractures and returning to running here.

Other injuries

Knee Pain

Most knee pain can be managed to allow you to continue to run, but definitely see a running specialist before it gets worse. Figuring out the cause of knee pain can often lead to better running. This is because knee pain is often a result of limitations at the foot/ankle or the hip. When these issues are addressed, injury risk decreases and running performance increases.

Acute Injuries

You should see a healthcare provider for any acute injury. Depending on the injury, it may be essential to take time off running to allow for proper healing.


In summary, go see someone who will help you keep running. You'll learn a ton, including how to manage your injury, run faster, and keep yourself running for years to come!

If you've been afraid to see someone because you don't want them to tell you that you can't run, give us a try! Schedule your free discovery visit today.


Our informational blog posts allow us to reach more runners and athletes so they can benefit from fewer injuries and better performance. Please share today’s blog so we can spread the love!

For runners who refuse to quit, schedule today to start your journey toward fewer injuries and better performance!

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We strive to be the number one physical therapy provider in Wilmington, Delaware for those who refuse to quit.

Our blog posts allow us to reach more runners and athletes so they can benefit from fewer injuries and better performance. Please share it so we can spread the love!

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