Knee feels fine now. How long should I wait before I go back to running?
August 29, 2012 6:19 AM   Subscribe

About a 10 days ago I tweaked my knee while running. It feels fine now. How long should I wait before I go back to running?

I am not looking for a diagnosis (you are not my doctor, trainer, physical therapist, etc.) but I figure relevant details can't hurt:

By 'running', I mean the intermittent running/walking required by the early weeks of the Couch to 5K program. Running on dirt and asphalt. During week two both of my knees were feeling a little bit sore, but it felt like a general "my knees are just not used to this activity yet" soreness. After day 3 of week 2, though, it was pretty clear I had done something to my left knee. It hurt to bend my knee sharply while lifting my thigh in certain ways - the best example I can think of was trying to pull my foot out of a shoe.

I've taken a break from the program, and although I haven't tried running on it yet the knee feels pretty much fine now. In the meantime I went to a running store and bought a good pair of shoes after a simple visual gait analysis, which will hopefully help me avoid future issues; I'd been running in a pair of cheapo big box store sneakers, and the new ones feel noticeably better even when just walking.

My basic question is this: Is there any prevailing wisdom is as far as getting back to running after an injury? Should I try walking a couple of miles first and see how that goes? Wait another few days? Wait another week? I've spent some time poking around previous AskMeFi questions and the internet in general, but while there are plenty of "Don't run through pain!" answers I'm not finding any rules of thumb about how long not to run. I'm eager to get back to the program (I'll probably do week 2 over again) but I don't want to set myself back further if I'm not 100%.
posted by usonian to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have no pain at all, go back whenever you want. If you were wearing cheap shoes before, that's almost definitely the culprit.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:24 AM on August 29, 2012

Best answer: Everyone's healing time is different. There's no way any of us can predict how long you should wait. There are too many variables, and it's not just age and weight. My best advice would be to take it easy and stop if you get the slightest twinge of discomfort. Walk instead, if that doesn't hurt. Stay very conscious of your posture and gait. Don't favor one leg over the other.
posted by mareli at 6:25 AM on August 29, 2012

>> In the meantime I went to a running store and bought a good pair of shoes after a simple visual gait analysis, which will hopefully help me avoid future issues;

Ok, that's the most important step (and where most people including myself go wrong when starting) - running shoes from a proper running shop.

The only way you're going to be able to tell if you've left enough time is to go and try running again! So go and do it and if you find you're in a lot of knee-pain that you had before, stop, heal, try again in a couple of days time.
posted by BigCalm at 7:02 AM on August 29, 2012

If your knee doesn't hurt, it's generally okay to go back to running (in my non-medical, long-time-runner's opinion). Pain is the sign that something is wrong. Take a short run, and if that works, start back in slowly and make sure you're paying attention to form.
posted by xingcat at 7:03 AM on August 29, 2012

Best answer: I can't speak to the healing time, but I can say I went through the exact same process: started C25K with cheapo shoes, experienced increasing knee pain through weeks 2 and 3 and had to take a break. Unfortunately for me I lost momentum. When I restarted the program a few months later I went through the first week with the same shoes and then bought some nice stability running shoes and all of the problems went away. I finished C25K and have kept running now for several months. Best of luck!
posted by Tallguy at 7:03 AM on August 29, 2012

Oh, and I thought I could also share some of the advice that helped me finish C25K.
posted by Tallguy at 7:06 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd agree with the folks above that you'll be fine to go back, but with one caveat: if you start to feel pain in the knee again, stop running immediately. Get home, ice it up, and give it a few more days.

And good call going for the new shoes!
posted by Grither at 7:28 AM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Too many good and like-minded answers to mark as best. I went out intending to walk this evening, and after five minutes I decided to try running again... I wound up doing a full week 2 session. No knee pain, and the new shoes make a night and day difference overall. Thanks all!
posted by usonian at 4:36 PM on August 30, 2012

« Older What qualifies as entrapment?   |   Why kill the tiger? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.