I have been getting some emails lately regarding injury, especially related to running. It is unavoidable if you are engaged in a sport, especially if you are just starting out or are increasing your training volume or intensity.
But there is a bright side to injury. After last cross country season, I had an IT band injury that left me unable to compete or even run for that matter. Taking that time off and visiting experts was the single most beneficial thing in helping me listen to my body and learn preventative measures. This is what I have learned:
1. Listen to your body. If it is an unusual or sharp pain, it is better safe than sorry.
Sorry Nike. I cannot agree with you on this one and I think this is a wretched form of advertising. Pushing through my injury amplified the problem and made my recovery much, much longer. When I feel pain now, I often finish my run which I don’t recommend, but I know that most runners will. Afterwards, I focus my attention on that area with stretching and ice to stop inflammation. After 24 hours, I try to go into the hot tub to help sooth the muscles.
2. Stretch and Foam Roll! The other night I went to the gym after hours and shot a couple of photos of me doing my favourite and most effective stretches.
Quads are such an important muscle to stretch because they are one of the largest sets of muscles in your legs. Be sure to stretch your hamstrings at the back of your legs as well. This can help with IT band and knee related pain.
I could also name this the “I have no idea what it is called” stretch. All I know is that it feels great and it works the hip flexors and helps with the IT band.
Foam Rolling is THE BEST. It hurts beyond your wildest imagination but it is like giving a deep tissue massage to yourself. It gets right in there and loosens up tight muscles. I highly recommend if you are a runner to get a foam roller or…
The stick is advertised as a “toothbrush for your muscles”. Sound painful? It is. But it works. It works really well on areas that the foam roller is kinder to, in this case, my calves which are very painful from all the hills I have been doing on the trails. I am also suffering from some Achilles pain which I stretch by going against the wall in a simple calf stretch and then bending the knee a bit – oy!
3. Ice: It took me a while to learn this, but a hot shower is NOT what you follow up a hard run with. I don’t care if it is an ice bath (ew) or you sit around in sweaty clothes with ice packs wrapped in towels all over your hips, butt, and legs (my FAVOURITE…), ice that body to prevent inflammation!
4. Get a massage: But not a hot stone one. I am talking a deep tissue, almost-crying-on-the-table massage to get the fascia loosened and the muscles in their proper places. I would recommend this short term to get over a pesky or intensive injury and then follow step 5 for long term prevention. Send me an email and I can refer you to one of two ladies in this area – one is a ripped farm girl who is not afraid to make you cry and the other one is a cross fit coach who teaches bootcamp for fun. Perfect.
5. Get muscle restoration coaching – I am not sure if that is the right thing to call it, but I have been seeing an amazing health coach from our gym who tailors stretches, treatment, and a nutrition and supplement plan just for me to prevent any future injuries. Working with a stride analysis, he helps my alignment and form so I can reach my running potential injury free! Here is his information.
To state the extreme obvious, I am not a professional and there are a zillion other ways out there to prevent injury, these are just things that have worked and are working for me.
And to those of you who have never ran yet, if this won’t want to make you want to launch yourself into the world of running, I have no idea what will!