One of the most common questions that I get from patients is:
“Should I stop (insert activity) if it hurts my (insert body part)?”
Should I stop running if it hurts my lower back?
Should I stop lifting weights over y head if it hurts my shoulders?
The answer is always “yes”. You should never be in pain when you perform activity because it means that some part of the body is not functioning properly which alters your biomechanics and causes pain. The follow-up reply to the answer is always the same:
“For how long?”
Now, before anyone has a major freak-out, I don’t say forever (except in certain situations), but just for now. While this applies to most cases we see, for some reason the endurance athletes, specifically runners, seem to think that the world may come to an end if they have to miss a few days or weeks of training. As athletes, we know exercise can be a crucial outlet for many people and it’s difficult to break activity habits when it’s something you do every day. However, the reality is if you have an injury and consistently feel pain then it will only heal with a proper recovery period and the right care.
Of course, our goal here at CORE Chiropractic is to get you back to 100% as soon as possible. In a lot of cases, most exercises and daily activities can still be done in a limited capacity as you’re healing, but in some cases, the best thing you can do is rest.
So, why should you stop running or the aggravating activity?
The main reason is that you need time to heal. Running can be extremely hard on the body. Depending on how much you weigh, the impact of each step while running can be up to 2.5 times your bodyweight. For example, a 200-pound man could exert up to 500 pounds of force into his body with each step during a workout.
Needless to say, your body takes quite a beating. On top of that, most people grossly underestimate the time it takes an injury to fully heal, and become frustrated when things don’t seem get better overnight. We are really good at what we do, but no matter how hard we try, we can’t eliminate neck and upper back pain from sitting hunched over at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 40 years after one visit.
Although the rate of healing depends a lot of the severity of the injury, and many other case-by-case attributes of each individual, to give you a rough idea on how long it takes some injuries to heal, we’ve included some stats below:
AVERAGE HEALING TIME:
Minor Muscle Tear: 2-4 weeks
Muscle Strain/sprain: 4-8+ weeks
Shin splints: Highly variable, but 2-6+ weeks
Stress Fracture: 8-12 weeks of no running
Tight muscles: 2-4 weeks, but largely depends on avoiding what caused it in the first place.
Tight joints: Similar to tight muscles, but there is a lot of variety and we recommend consulting us case by case.
Broken Bone: 8+ weeks, depends on treatment plan.
Bulging Disc: 1-2+ years, or never.
So whether our pain is caused by running, cycling, lifting weights, or any other activity, we have to respect the amount of impact and stress to which we expose our bodies, and give ourselves an appropriate amount.
We understand that no one lives in a bubble and that it’s impossible for anyone to completely isolate themselves from any and all potential situations that could aggravate an existing injury. We’re just saying that sometimes it’s important to step back and look at things from a big picture perspective.
Yes, it’s annoying to not be able to do something you love for even a short period of time, but a week or two of rest now could save you from months and possibly years of recurring and nagging injuries.
Additionally, please know we’re not going to leave you high and dry with nothing to do. There is a plethora of other physical activities you can do in the interim to replace your daily run or weight routine. Just ask, and we’ll set you up with a rehabilitation program. You’d be amazed at how fast you can recover with a little rest and by doing your rehab exercises and stretches.
So, when in doubt rest it out, get treated and put yourself back on the path to recovery to stay pain free and full of activity.
Dr. Brandon Siegmund was born and raised outside of Fort Worth. After he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006, Dr. Siegmund performed clinical research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Click Here To Read Full Bio