You go out for a run and you feel a little ping in your right knee. You brush it off because you're secretly in denial that it could be an injury and you talk yourself into thinking it's just "tight". You feel it aching when you lay down that night, but you still get up to hit the pavement the next day. It hurts worse on your next run, so you come home and take action by foam rolling, icing, etc. All of this on repeat until you can't run a step.
Sound familiar? It sucks. And those nagging injuries and pains can come on so fast. And the bad part is, some of these pains are acceptable to run through and some are absolutely not. So, what does this mean? You've got to know your body and know the difference in muscle tightness, tendon pain, or stress/reaction fracture pain.
The time I've spent as a runner, I have sustained my fair share of nagging pain and injuries. Most of them come with higher mileage and intensity in workouts. Plantar Fasciitis, IT Band Syndrome, Runners Knee, Achilles Tendinitis, lower back pain, and hip pain are things I deal with from time to time (the biggest was a femoral neck stress fracture). If you're a runner and you're reading this, you are probably checking a few of these off your list as well! Pounding the pavement comes with aches and pains-it's all part of the course (especially when you are training and ramping up the mileage and the intensity), but there are smart ways to handle this. And, when these problems do arise, you have to be a responsible runner and take care of them so they don't become a bigger problem!
Using a roller (like every day, ya'll) will keep your muscles loose. One that I have and love is the RollRecovery R8. It's great for pushing out that lactic acid and rolling out those tired muscles. I also love my foam roller. It's great for getting down on the floor and rolling out any and all muscles that feel tight.
KT Tape is another great tool in lifting the skin in injured spots where inflammation and swelling has taken over. It helps reduce pressure to the tissue and may reduce discomfort and pain. It also supports the muscle during exercise and helps it to not over extend or over contract. I personally love KT Tape when my lower back is giving me fits or when my Achilles or IT Band flare up. It literally saved my Achilles when I ran Boston last year!
Ice baths are another great method to help reduce inflammation in the body after a hard run or workout. They are miserable (I won't lie), but I believe they are incredibly beneficial when you're pushing your body to the limit. If I'm running a long run over 13-14 miles or after a hard speed workout-ICE BATH! Here's how I do them: Grab two 10lb bags of ice at the store. Fill your tub with cold water, dump ice in, and let it sit for about 5 mins. Set your timer for 12 mins, make sure you are waist deep in your tub, and find something to take your mind off of being cold (I like to have a cup of coffee and listen to music). Like I said, it's hard to do, but I've found that it really cuts down on soreness and those annoying aches and pains.
Last but not least-REST DAYS! Take them. They won't kill you and your body will thank you. Allowing your body to rest is so important when training. It allows for your body to recover, rebuild, and restore so you can continue to train the way you want to. I take 1-2 days off a week of either complete rest or active recovery (light spinning, walk around the block with family, etc).
Stress fractures are nothing to mess around with though. These are something that needs to be addressed by a doctor. If your pain is getting worse, if you get to the point where you cannot walk, or your injury isn't responding to anything above-it's time to make an appointment. Never, ever push through this kind of pain! Trust me!
Get to know your body and how to respond to it before it becomes a problem. Sometimes we can't prevent injuries, but most of the time our body will present warning signs before it becomes a big problem. In order to stay active for years to come, it's important to take care of ourselves. Success and achievement is an amazing feeling, but we don't have that without a healthy body. Take care of yourself, be responsible with your training, and keep on being your bad ass self!
Until next time,
"In order to cash in on all the training, get the rest. If you can't run as fast as you want to, you haven't rested enough." -Ted Corbit"