I’ve had just about every overuse injury in the book. If I haven’t had it, I’ve read about it in my search to understand my injuries.
Posted Saturday, 22 May, 2004
I jokingly call the problems I have “pain gremlins” because they seem to move about: Just when I think I’m injury-free, the pain pops up in another place. Sometimes the pain is manageable: the type I can run through. However, other times the pain forces me out of the game for a while. My hip flexors are my biggest challenge, always fighting me in one way or another and often forcing me to rest. I’ve come to accept the rest periods as an important part of training, and each bout with injury has taught me valuable lessons.
While striving to improve our fitness and our race times, we are very prone to injury. We must accept the fact that injuries are “diseases of excellence,” and are a part of the training process. We can take precautions to reduce the risk of becoming injured, but sometimes even the most comprehensive “anti injury” plans fail.
Losing the ability to run – even for a short time – can be devastating. We depend on running for many things: to free our minds (even if only for an hour or so), to give us a sense of well-being and fitness, to challenge ourselves, and to bring us together with other runners who share our love of the roads and trails. When injury strikes, these benefits are lost (albeit temporarily), and coping with this loss can be difficult.
When injured, our priority is to get better as quickly as possible, but unfortunately there isn’t always a quick fix. We can do all of the things we “ought” to do to get better: rest, ice, compress, elevate, heat, stretch, strengthen, massage…. We can do these things exactly as prescribed by the doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists we see, through the books we read, and through the advice of our ever-knowledgeable runner friends. However, as someone with
an impressive injury resume, there are several simple truths I have come to believe:
- There is no “short cut” to recovery from an injury. Each injury, depending on its severity, will require tissue repair time. My experience has always been that once the requisite time has passed, the pain is gone.
- Most running injuries require time off from running. That means NO RUNNING until the pain is gone or is reduced to a level of discomfort that does not get worse during or after a run.
- Running with the mask of ibuprofen is not an emotionally satisfying experience, and is not effective for recovery from injury.
Once you accept these truths, you can get on with the business of getting better and:
- Pain and discomfort on various levels are part of running. Pain comes and goes, but only if you respect it and give it the attention it needs.
- See injuries for what they are: Your body telling you to back off the mileage, slow down, allow more recovery time, or make a change to shoes, orthotics, or your running surface.
- Use the downtime constructively and put your efforts into learning about what might have caused the injury in the first place. Make the necessary changes to training.
- Cross train: You might find that you really like swimming!
- Look forward to the time when you’ll be running strong again. Plan future races.
- Realize and appreciate that your body has amazing regenerative powers. Notice the slight improvements in it every day.
Injuries may be a necessary evil of hard training. Learn to deal with injuries wisely, and you will spend more time running and less time wondering what went wrong. Remember, pain will come and pain will go. Accept it, deal with it, and move on.
Follow up by Jennifer Bostwick - SheRuns publisher
I have created SheRuns because I believe women runners need a voice and a space for expressing themselves. Although more women run than ever, there are limited magazines for running, in general, and insufficient magazines and articles aimed at women, in particular. Running is individual, for certain, but as a group, I believe women make up an amazingly connected presence with unique perspectives, goals and lives. With SheRuns, I hope to address issues that directly relate to running and how it fits into our lives as women. Excerpted articles for the current issue of SheRuns will be posted here monthly. This is the third article to be published. Be sure to come back and check out next month's article! Send me a note, let me know what you think.