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by Jason Lakritz

Posted in Blog.

September 1st, 2020

The Pain Scale

Using the pain scale for knowing when to run or not. 

The pain scale is a subjective scale rating severity of pain from 1 to 10. 1 being I feel something is there, 5 being the pain makes me limp, and 10 being childbirth (impossible to move). As a PT and a coach, I use this constantly to assess whether or not a person should be running.  

Pain scale 1-3

  • Pain is present but does not affect the way I move. 
  • The pain decreases throughout the run and does not get worse after. It is OK if you continue to run when you experience this level of pain, but I would focus on addressing the root cause to ensure your pain does not get worse. At this level of pain, your body is essentially warning you that something is not quite right. 

Pain scale 4-6 with pain decreasing as you run

  • Pain is present and affects the way I move.
  • It is difficult to run “normal” at the start of a run. As you continue to run, your pain decreases and your running becomes more “normal”. Unfortunately, this type of pain typically returns after your run. Over the week the pain does not increase.  It is ok to run, but your body is telling you something is seriously off and if you continue to train for an extended period of time your injury will get worse. In this scenario, we want to decrease our volume, intensity, frequency, and, most importantly, initiate a rehab program.  
  • This type of pain often requires athletes to modify their programs; increase days off, add in more cross-training, etc.

Pain scale 4-6 with pain increasing as you run 

  • Pain is present and affects the way I move. It is difficult to run “normal” at the start of a run. As I continue to run, my pain either remains the same or gets worse making it more difficult to continue.
  • Your pain gets worse after the run and may even increase throughout the week.  In this scenario, you should discontinue running and initiate a rehab program as soon as possible. 

Pain scale 7 and above

  • Severe pain that only increases with running.
  • In this scenario, you should not run and you should initiate a rehab program immediately.  

Be honest with yourself when assessing pain.

The longer you run through pain and ignore it the longer the road to pain-free running will be.  

Questions? Shoot an email if you’re unsure if you should be running or not!

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