Feeling achy from a running injury? "Given time, your body will usually start to heal on its own," says Lisa Callahan, MD, co-director of the Women's Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.
If the pain lasts for more than 10 to 14 days, or if it's very sudden or severe (meaning you can't walk without pain or it's noticeably swollen), it's time to visit a doctor. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help speed your recovery.
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Most injuries start with inflammation, so icing right away can help. Keep cooling sessions to no more than 20 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite or other skin damage.
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If you're still hurting after two or three days, try switching from ice to a heating pad, which will increase blood flow to the affected area and speed healing.
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Once your pain is gone, gently take the muscles and joints through their full range of motion to reduce stiffness and aid in recovery. Stretch several times daily.
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Kinesiology tape (KT) may reduce swelling, take pressure off overused muscles and cut pain. Research on its value is limited, notes Dr. Callahan, but if it seems to help you, stick with it.
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A running injury doesn't have to mean a total break from exercise. Try doing some low-impact workouts (Spinning, swimming) to keep your fitness up while your body heals.