Running injury? Let’s talk about how to cope when an injury either curtails your running schedule or completely interrupts your ability to run.
I am currently suffering through a training-ending injury. The ligament that runs along my arch has decided it wants to remove itself from the bone.
Oh, no it di’in’t!
Yeah, it kinda did.
I was in full training mode for a half-marathon when my injury stopped me from running even a few steps.
So, what’s a runner to do?
If possible, cross train.
Lots of runners cross train all the way through training. Me? Eh, not so much.
But, I have a recumbent bike set-up for injuries.
I see some of you rolling your eyes at the idea of a recumbent bike, like there is no way I could get a great workout on such a granny-mobile, but I’m telling you, I get out of it what I put into it. In other words, it’s a kick-ass workout.
It’s not my first choice, I’d rather be running, but having the bike allows me a back-up plan in case of injury, and it’s also perfect as insurance against bad running weather.
Include core work and light weight-lifting as part of your routine.
If at all possible, when injured, I keep core work and lifting as part of my weekly workouts. My heaviest free-weights run between 15-20 pounds.
Running is tough work, including weights and core-work allows me to stave off most injuries. It’s an all-over body-strength plan.
Incorporate a foam-rolling routine.
For those of you who have never used a foam roller, don’t be deceived. The name is a misnomer; they aren’t foamy at all.
This is what they’re used for: myofascial massage.
Trust when I tell you that it hurts like a mofo when you first start using one. The benefit is that it promotes healing in muscles and helps with range-of-motion of muscles.
The more you use a foam roller, the stronger you are, in terms of muscle health.
What about stretching?
I’ve never been a regular stretcher and I’ve done just fine. There are two schools of thought on stretching: #1) Stretch. #2) No need to stretch.
You gotta figure out what is best for you.
Interestingly, when I came up lame with the injury I have now, Doc #1 told me it was because I don’t stretch. His assessment was if I incorporated stretching into my routine, I’d be fine (this was pre-x-ray).
I took his advice and started a regime, but about two days in, my gut was telling me that the stretching was counter-intuitive to what was happening in my body, so I stopped. When I got the results of the x-ray, Doc #2 said my instincts had been dead-on. Had I continued stretching, I would have exacerbated the problem.
Great thing about running is that if you do it long enough, you become hyper body-aware.
Is your pain an injury or just an ache?
How do you know? How can you tell the difference?
For me, most of my true injuries started as aches. My M.O. is to run on unless I experience sharp or stabby pains. If you feel the need to stop completely, or you’re limping, or even doubled over in pain, those are the sensations to heed.
The thing about running with injury is that if you experience the pain in the beginning of your run, and it diminishes as you run, yet flares back up an hour or two after your run, it’s probably an injury that needs rest or a doc’s evaluation.
The reason that you can be relative pain-free during the run is that increased blood flow relieves pain.
If you find yourself icing tender areas or worse, needing pain meds afterwards, those are two tells that you need to cool your jets: YOU’RE INJURED.
So, do as I say and not so much as I do.
Listen to your body. Adjust your schedule accordingly. Heal.
Running isn’t for just today or for that one race, it’s for the rest of your life.
Run on, mah babies!