Can You Run with a Tailbone/Coccyx Injury? My Experience

February 25, 2021

a runner stretching on a sidewalk lined with flowering spring trees

Last summer, I fell down some slippery deck stairs and landed on my butt. I was basically immobilized for a couple days—it was excruciatingly painful to get out of bed, sit down, and even walk.

But like any normal runner, I was most concerned about my ability to get back to running. I even bawled a couple days into the injury because I was so frustrated by the multiple running setbacks I’d experienced that year, including this random injury.

It’s been over half a year since then, and I wanted to document my recovery timeline and what worked for me, in case it could help help others. Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional, so please do not take this post as medical advice. I’m simply offering my experience with a tailbone injury to encourage others going through the same thing. I did consult a physical therapist about my injury, but you should always see a PT yourself if you can, as every person’s situation is different.

With all that necessary but boring legal stuff out of the way, here’s my experience.

The Initial Injury & Getting Back to Running

old wooden deck stairs covered in snow
The darned stairs I fell down, though they weren’t covered in snow at the time

As some context, I’m a pretty avid runner, and I mostly train for half and full marathons (you can check out my race reviews). Running plays a huge role in my physical and mental well-being, and that’s why I was so bummed about this injury.

The first few days after my fall, I could barely walk. I felt extreme pressure in my tailbone area when I tried. I was unable to sit up in bed normally, and had to roll over onto my side to push myself up.

I didn’t see a doctor or get an X-ray, so I don’t know if my tailbone was fractured or just bruised. Based on my research, it seemed like treatment would really be the same either way (it’s not like you can get a butt cast lol), so I didn’t bother. My pain was bad, but my symptoms were improving, and I wasn’t having any trouble with bowel movements or urination. If you experience really severe issues like that, you should definitely see a doctor!

After a few days, I was able to walk slowly, but I still experienced pressure in the tailbone area. After about a week, I tried going on a short run. My physical therapist told me that if I didn’t feel pain, I could run.

I made it just over two miles before stopping, as the tailbone pressure was pretty strong. I decided to rest a bit more and just go on walks and bike rides instead (which surprisingly didn’t hurt, as my tailbone never touched the bike seat).

After two weeks, I was able to run normally, with minimal pain.

That said, it took my tailbone several months to fully recover. I still had trouble doing certain yoga poses and core exercises that required using or sitting on my tailbone. It really surprised me how I continued to have symptoms, but most tailbone/coccycx injuries do take weeks and months to heal (it is a bone, after all).

Your symptoms may be more or less severe—some people can run through the injury, while others need to take a few weeks off.

How I Treated My Tailbone Injury

This section contains affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a small commission on any purchases made through these links, at no cost to you. 

So what did I do to speed recovery? Really not much, to be honest. It was mostly a waiting game for me, but there were a couple things that eased my symptoms.

I didn’t experience too much pain while sitting (it was the getting up and down that hurt), but if it is difficult for you to sit, you may want to sit in a way that takes pressure off your tailbone. There are the infamous donut pillows (Amazon/eBay), but you can also just take a towel, roll it up, and shape it into a semicircle. Sit on the towel so that your tailbone is elevated from the chair and not touching the towel. See the below image for an example!

a blue microfiber towel rolled up and shaped into a semicircle on a cushioned chair
You’d want a thicker towel, but this is just for a demonstration 

My physical therapist also recommended some stretches. One was simply pulling one knee into your chest while lying down, and the other was a variation where you pulled the knee to the opposite side of your chest. This helped relieve some of the tension in that area.

There are some other stretches you can do as well, such as pigeon pose and the figure four stretch.


 

I hope this post offers a little bit of encouragement to you! I wanted to write it since I didn’t find anything similar when I was injured, and I would’ve appreciated hearing others’ experiences.

Have you ever had a tailbone injury? What did you do to heal and get back to doing what you love?

Sending you best wishes for a speedy recovery!

You may also like:

10 Common Running Mistakes to Avoid
8 Tips to Prevent Running Injuries

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8 Comments

  • Hwee Chze April 10, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    Thank you for this article. I just had a fall on my butt a few days ago (gripless slippers on wet ground), and was wondering if I could run when my tailbone still hurts. This is helpful.

    • Lily April 10, 2021 at 9:48 pm

      So glad it could help! Hope you feel better soon!

  • Flora Walker August 23, 2021 at 7:26 am

    Also massively appreciated reading this. I have a half (my first) in one month’s time so hopefully I can run despite my butt fall 👍

    • Lily August 23, 2021 at 9:00 am

      Fingers crossed that you’ll be able to run the half! Cheering you on!

  • Brigid August 23, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    I have found this information very helpful.I also run for stress relief and to cope with grief.(I lost my mom in October) I fell down some stairs 4 days ago and am managing with a donut shaped pillow that arrived today and walking which is tough but gets easier after 5 minutes. Thank you.

  • Anna September 20, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you. I’m devastated.
    I fell roller skating. Hit tailbone.
    Was starting to get into a rhythm of Dunning, hit sessions, power walks etc… Now my bruised tail bone is stopping the runs and long walks.
    Might try a short walk today. A week and a bit later…. Hit sessions too. I understand the tears. I feel so frustrated…..

    • Lily September 20, 2021 at 3:26 pm

      Oh that’s the worst! I hope you get better soon and can get some rest in the meantime.

  • Zaine November 24, 2021 at 3:20 am

    I’m having a big race in a few months time and i was really worried that my effort was going to go to waste after having trained so hard for so long. Slipped off a platform just today and landed on my tailbone, I’m hoping to be able to run again in a few days! Reading this post made me feel better about my chances of recovery, thanks a lot 🙂

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    About Me

    I'm Lily, and I run races and go places (& blog about it). I also try to advocate for the planet & its people.
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