Understanding Pain

By: Dr. Richard Kang

As the weather gets warmer, and with spring around the corner, runners will eagerly come out of hibernation and begin to hit the pavement. If I can offer one piece of advice for the entire running season, I would emphatically state: do NOT “push through the pain."  But, how do runners know which pains to push through and which ones should make them stop?

Here are a few tips to help you tell the difference.

Pain that may not be serious:

  • No point of origin
  • Relieved with stretching
  • Resolves with rest
  • Alleviated by taking anti-inflammatory medication (i.e. Ibuprofen)

Pain you should take seriously:

  • A point of origin
  • Causes a limp
  • Does not go away after you stop exercising
  • Persists for days
  • Wakes you from sleep
  • Associated with swelling
  • Occurs with each stride
  • Accompanied by locking or catching in a joint
  • Pain with instability

If you suspect that you have pain that you have any of the above serious symptoms, it is advisable to stop any activities that cause them.  Consider limiting your weight bearing on the extremity (use crutches) and seek medical attention.