So now that I’ve had a little injury that was serious enough to prevent me from hard training I thought I’d share some of the running-specific, physiological lessons that I learned in order to heal and come back strong. No, I’m not 100% yet, and no, this wasn’t a super serious injury but I’m well on my way and the stupid IT is getting looser and stronger everyday. So, without further adieu, I present my injury tips. Um, disclaimer. I’m not a doctor or trainer, I don’t play one on TV and so if you really are hurt get yourself to someone with a license and training to deal. Ok? Ok.
1. Know the difference between injured and sore. I get sore all the time. In fact, there is hardly a time when something in my lower half isn’t aching. But I knew the instant my IT went from “sore” to injured. The rule of thumb is this– it’s a niggle and you should tough it out if it doesn’t affect your stride, it’s an injury if it’s slowing you down or affecting your stride. Trust me, the difference will become clear.
2. Get good advice. Ask other runners where they go for treatment, who they see and what works. Chances are there is someone in your community runners swear by.
3. Don’t be afraid of new treatments. I am not a fan of non-traditional medicine. I think herbs, accupuncture and chiropractic care are, for the most part, voo doo medicine that mostly have a placebo affect. I want doctors with white coats and degrees on the wall and licenses from the government. However, I’m a huge fan of Active Release Therapy and massage. And during this injury I went to a new practicioner who practices “somatic therapy.” I don’t even know what that is. I just know it hurt like hell whle I was being treated and then I got better.
4. Be proactive. If your PT, ART, doctor or trainer gives you exercises or stretches do them. Do them regularly and do them right. You need to do your part and a huge part of rehab happens at home. I have spent hours foam rolling and stretching in front of the TV. It makes watching Jersey Shore seem more productive. Don’t judge. I know you’re watching too.
5. If you get told not to run, don’t run. It’s ok to seek a 2nd opinion but I had a huge breakthrough when I rested and let the PT/ART do his thing. It was unpleasant but helped speed up the healing.
6. When you start back don’t expect your body to be the same. Start slow, build your mileage in a way that’s smart and conservative and watch for any signs of a flare up. Ice, stretch and continue to do your PT exercises.
7. Continue to work out. Do yoga, ride your bike, swim, whatever. There are lots of things to work on in the time you’d be spending running. That’ll helps speed recovery and limit the fitness you lose, too.
So that’s all my advice. It’s all a whole lot easier said than done, but trust me– it’s worth it. This weekend I’m going to attempt (a doctor ok’d) “long run” of 6 miles. We’ll see how that goes– I’m still really nervous every time I go run but I really am feeling better each day which is encouraging. I can foam roll without my eyes watering! Progress!