Updated: Oct 21, 2018
Everyone’s heard the theory of “no pain, no gain”, but in reality, this thinking can do more harm than good. Most injuries begin as a small tinge of pain that eventually escalates to a full-blown injury after being pushed aside and trained through. The biggest issue most runners face is knowing the difference between discomfort and actual pain. When in doubt seek out advice from your medical professional. Below are a few of what I believe to be the most important do’s and don’ts when it comes to running and injuries.
DON’T:Run through the pain
DO:Listen to your body
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; YOUR BODY IS SMARTER THAN YOU, listen to it! If your body is sending signals to your brain that it is in pain it’s usually for good reason. If you listen to your body as soon as you feel these signals you can avoid pain/injuries and end up missing only one day of running instead of 4-6 weeks if you attempt to run thru the pain and let your injury full escalate.
DON’T:Quit any and all exercise
DO:Continue to train with alternative exercises
Just because you’re injured does not mean that all workouts are out of the question. In fact, you want to keep your body moving and in shape to help speed up your recovery. Focus on working muscle groups that are not injured, lowering the intensity of your workouts and supplementing with physio exercise; aka stretching, mobility and flexibility movements to stave off future injuries. Be smart about training around your injury instead of through it.
DON’T: Ice before a run
DO:Ice immediately after a run
Numbing a portion of your body before running can block important signals of pain that your body is trying to send to your brain, thus increasing your chance of injuring your body even more. On the other hand, icing immediately after a run will initiate the healing process and decrease swelling. 15-20 minutes is ideal for icing; too short of time and you will have minimal effect on the injured tissue, too long and you risk frostbite to the exposed skin.
DON’T: Self diagnose your injury
DO:Seek out the advice of a medical professional
It may seem like a pain in the rump to go see a Dr, but in the grand scheme of things this will save you time, energy and pain. Your doctor will be able to correctlydiagnose your injury, help you figure out manageable alternatives so you can continue training and give you a reasonable timeline for recovery.
DON’T:Pick up where you left off
Your mind may be ready to jump back in to your 6-mile daily morning runs but after an injury you need to ease back in. Avoid hills, sprints and back-to-back days of running after recovery and be sure to listen to your body. You’ll be less likely to injure yourself if you stick to these guidelines.
DON’T: Ignore the pain and warning signals
DO:Try out physical therapy or massage therapy
Your doctor may recommend that you go to PT or a massage therapist. Even if they do not you may want to consider doing so anyways. Physical therapy is a great way to learn new movements and stretches to help prevent further injuries. Massage therapy is a great way to break up the fascia in your muscles, loosen up sore or tight muscles and ensure your body is less inclined to injury.
Bottom line is be sure that you listen to your body. Make sure that you seek out medical advice and be patient. Injuries can be frustrating. They are part of an active person’s life. But you don’t want to make them worse, so take your recovery time, find the joy in other physical activities, and error on the side of caution by seeking out medical advice when you are not sure about what you are dealing with.
Gear up for your next run ...