Everyone has a plan, until they get a punch in the face…Mike Tyson
If you have become a runner you have subjected yourself to a lot of pain. Your muscles will ache, your feet will hurt, and your lungs will expand and contract in various degrees of discomfort. These familiar pains are shared by all of us, we fondly discuss them at running club meetings, and dinner parties. But when there is pain that exceeds normal running boundaries, it could be the sign of an injury. Recognizing injury is the first step in the healing process. If and when, injury happens to you, there is no need to freak out or give up your running life. Simply take a deep breath and remember these 5 things:
You will not be injured forever: Take heart and chill, this is an injury not a life sentence. Most small injuries heal in a matter of weeks, and even major injuries heal within a few months. Maybe you will miss a few work-outs with your friends, or that race you have been dying to win, but you will not be missing your Mums birthday, breakfast at Tiffany’s, or your daughters class play, and aren’t those the important things?
Doctors can cure you faster than you can cure you: Find yourself a good sports orthopedic guy, preferably one who runs, and listen to his advice. Some years ago I was suffering from severe lower back pain that I could not shake as I had in previous years. After some testing my orthopedic guy gave me, unwelcome yet, great advice. Because he was a runner he understood, he said “Mac, I would, and should, tell you to stop running but I know that you will not listen. So my advice is get off the road and on the trails.” I reluctantly followed his advice, and have been running pain free for 6 years. I have also found a love of trail running that far surpasses any love I ever had for road running.
Rest for an appropriate amount of time: Rest Ice and Elevation is a treatment not a cure. R.I.C.E is the recommended treatment for most small injuries. Using this treatment will draw away excess fluids from an injured area and help the pain subside. With the subsidence of pain you will be oh so tempted to go out and run again. You are not healed, you are suffering from “work-out stupidity syndrome” and you are in danger of hurting yourself even further. Your haste will cause you to either re injure yourself, or aggravate your present injury, both scenarios will extend your time to achieving a 100% status.
Cross training is available: Ok, so you can’t run but maybe you can bike, or swim, hand cycle, or lift weights. My favorite is swimming when I have a lower leg injury. Swimming can get the heart rate up to running levels, and it does wonders to maintain your aerobic fitness. The bike will work well to maintain leg strength, even with a hamstring pull. What ever you choose make sure it is not stressing your current injury location. Chances are if your activity is causing location pain, it is causing re injury.
You will not have to look far for a support group: Lastly, but most importantly, remember that runners are full of advice when it comes to nurturing injuries. We have all been there at some point, we know how to deal with the pains. I don’t know a single runner who would not be anxious to help with sage advice during your recovery. Just ask.