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RUNNING Away From Injury: Injured & Cranky

A good habit is hard to break.

View previous post in this series, RUNNING Away From Injury.

We become dependent on our daily regimens. Especially runners. When the body screams “STOP!” and you refuse to listen, silent sirens of pain are triggered forcing you to limp to the side of the road. Like speed limit signs, ignore them long enough and the cops will eventually get you.

You can mask pain with ibuprofen, Kinesio tape, or even steroids, but the band-aids don’t cure the inflammation underneath.

Time heals. Rest rejuvenates. All words an injured runner doesn’t want to hear. 

Visit the spouse or children of an injured runner and you’ll want to take them to a safe house.

Running becomes part of your life. A lifestyle. Your grip on this daily respite bonds you to the pavement. The brain becomes dependent on the serotonin. Tying those laces daily is as necessary as your morning coffee.

Suddenly something hurts. Pain becomes more acute and can’t be denied. Your head refuses to acknowledge what your body won’t forgive.

I’ve been there. I know the pain of the injury doesn’t compare to the despair and depression that follows.

I’ve had a stress fracture in my hip that laid me up 6 weeks. Then iliotibial band syndrome (outside knee pain) multiple times in both legs. An injury that teases you at first only to debilitate you later.

Then my foot. What began as a common case of plantar fasciitis (pain in the arch of the foot) snowballed into a ruptured fascia. I was stubborn and didn’t allow the initial injury to heal. Impatient with a schedule of races to complete, I had too many steroid shots in my foot that ate away the fascial tissue. I endured shock wave therapy to my foot, tried ART (Active Release Technique®) therapy, and took oral anti-inflammatories. Refusing to stop running on it, I created a new injury- a neuroma in the ball of my foot. Still refusing to stop, I ran my first Boston Marathon on this severely injured foot. When I returned home, my foot was in such bad shape I had to wear a boot for 2 weeks before the doctor would even evaluate it.

Because of my refusal to back off, my foot will never be normal to this day. I look back at this difficult time in my life. I had run so far only to find myself completely off my feet. Fear, depression and hopelessness set in. I questioned whether I’d ever be able to run again.

If you get injured, here are a few strategies I suggest to help your through the recovery period.

1) Be proactive in your treatment.

Learn about your injury and options of treatment. It is comforting to know you are taking an active role in getting back on your feet.

Be consistent with icing. Twice a day for 20 minutes at least. Cold therapy is a great healer but only if you do it!

2) Keep your routine.  (This is most critical!)

If you usually run in the mornings at 6 am, then keep rising at 6 am and do something. If you can walk, walk. If you can swim, swim. Even if it is upper body exercises while sitting in a chair, do it. This will help your mental state. It will insure you do not forfeit your FIT lifestyle permanently.

If physically able, try these sports a few times a week to challenge your heart rate:  swimming, biking, spinning, rowing, elliptical machine, stair climber, power yoga.

3) Find a physician who expresses a desire to get you back running as soon as possible.

You’d be surprised how many doctors will try and convince you to give up running. (In their defense, most are frustrated when treating stubborn runners who don’t listen.) You want an expert who understands what running means to you. Find a sports medicine specialist that is an orthopedic surgeon, chiropractor, physical therapist, or athletic trainer with experience in your injury.

4) Try alternative therapies.

Check out therapies like acupuncture, ART (Active Release Technique®), Graston technique, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, massage, ice baths etc. Many of these alternatives can be beneficial. I’ve had some success with every single one of these mentioned.

5) Watch your diet.

Eat a water rich diet which helps flush out toxins in your system. Eat anti-inflammatory foods.  Make sure your diet includes good fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados. Avoid junk food especially when you aren’t as active. This is a prime time to gain weight making you feel even worse. Food becomes comfort and fuels depressive thoughts.

7) Take baby steps.

If your running gait is affected, don’t run. When you do start back, don’t run to the point of pain. Gradually ease back into running with repeated walk breaks. Try and finish a workout completely pain-free. This will help you stay on track physically and mentally it will give you a boost. You’ll be in a better mood the rest of the day with hope for more progress the next.

Should you need extra support for a recovering injury, check out my favorite athletic tapes. Cover Roll Stretch & Leukotape® P. (Do not use the Leukotape next to the skin).

8) Don’t let your worries become your reality.

You will get better. Time will pass faster than you think. You will not lose all your running fitness and what you do lose, you will get back much quicker than when you first began. Much like riding a bike, you don’t lose the skill just because you’ve been off for awhile.

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The way you respond to your injury can make all the difference between a blip in your radar or a complete detour. Choose to treat a minor injury rather than a major one later.

Take it from one who knows. If you fight your body, it will always win.

 

"Optimists see opportunity in every difficulty. Pessimists see difficulty in every opportunity." Winston Churchill

 

 

Related Posts I Recommend:

Under the Covers: Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Hangin’ It Up Feels Great

America’s Mind Plague- Excuses

 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Sarah #

    I needed this today after having a knee injury for the last 5 days. So frustrating!

    August 26, 2013

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