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Niggle or a serious injury? It’s important to know the difference if you are training for an event. Here are our 7 top warning signs:

1) You feel sick, confused or disoriented 
This could happen for a number of reasons and it is important that you stop in order to see if you begin to feel better or need to be looked at by a medical professional. 
If the weather is very hot, it could be a sign of heat stroke. This is a serious condition and will require attention from the medical team. 

Hyponatremia is a serious condition relating to a very low level of sodium in the body. This can sometimes happen if people are consuming too much fluid, therefore diluting the concentration of electrolytes in the blood stream. It is important to sip little and often during the race, rather than guzzling down a bottle. It is important to keep an eye on your fluid intake and only drink when thirsty. The use of electrolyte tablets and gels can be very helpful to try and replenish the salts we lose.  

2) You get a sudden onset of sharp or stabbing pain
If you develop a pain very suddenly whilst running and it inhibits your ability to run normally (i.e. your limping), it will feel difficult to continue with the race. 
If this is not something you have experienced before, comes on without warning and does not get better with a walk/stretch/decrease in speed, it is important to stop. 
Sharp and intense pain can be the sign of something more serious than a ‘muscle pull’. This could include: A rupture to a ligament or tendon or a stress fracture. Luckily, these are not as common as minor soft tissue injuries but if it is suspected, continuing to run could cause further and lasting damage. 

3) You feel a pop, crack or you knee/ankle gives way
We are bound to hear and feel some odd things when training for a distance event. However, if you experience a pop or crack, followed by a lot of pain and/or swelling – this is a sign to stop as it may indicated an injury to some of the important structures in the lower body. 
Weakness or giving way can also be indicative of a more serious injury. If you do not feel steady on your leg/foot, it may be time to call it a day.

4) You feel short of breath/struggle to breathe
Of course, feeling tired and breathless is part of running! however, there is a big difference between breathing heavy and finding it difficult to take in enough air comfortably. There can be many causes for this but regardless of the trigger, you need to stop and seek help. If may settle with some rest and deep breaths but you should not continue unless you are told it is safe to do so. 

Two major causes for this are asthma or a heart attack. If you feel pain through the upper body or chest – do not assume it is heartburn or a stitch. Stop and get it looked at immediately. 

5) You are shivering when running 
If it is cold, it is normal to stand on the start line feeling very shivery and itching to get going so you can warm up!
If you are well into a race and find that you simply cannot get warm, it could be a sign that your body temperature is dropping to a level that is unsafe. Hypothermia is a condition whereby the core body temperature drops dangerously low and it is important to seek help in order to bring it back up slowly. 
If you suspect this is happening, try to keep running to a point where you can get medical help, rather than stopping and walking. 

6) You are running in hot weather and stop sweating
On the opposite end of the weather spectrum – running in hot weather will usually lead us to sweat profusely as our body works hard to cool us down. 
If this suddenly stops or you start to feel cold (it can happen!), confused or nauseous it is crucial you stop and seek help. This is a major symptom of heat stroke which if left untreated can be life threatening. Bringing your core temperature down to a safe level can only be done with the aid of a trained medical professional.

7) Your entire body is hurting 
Niggles in the knees, hips or ankles can be thought of as a ‘normal’ part of running for some individuals. However, if you find that the pain is spreading and affecting multiple joints, chances are you have stopped enjoying yourself and are hating every second! No race is worth this feeling. Stop and walk or stop altogether. “No pain = no gain” should not be taken literally!

If you have an unsuccessful race for this reason, it can be worth re-visiting your training program and looking at how you can prepare your body for the next one. This may be through a better training program or introducing some strength and conditioning. Either way, we would be happy to help!


Running should be enjoyable and safe! Hopefully these tips have been helpful to make sure you run happy.

Thanks for reading. 
 

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Our clinic is based at 5 Upper Wimpole Street in Marylebone and we can be reached on 0207 935 7344 weekdays from 8am - 6pm.

Wimpole Street Physiotherapy Clinic

5 Upper Wimpole Street
Marylebone, London
W1G 6BP

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