running injury

How To Handle Running Injuries

Running injuries. They just plain suck. They frequently occur unexpectedly…or at a time when motivation and goals are at their best. Or when they actually sabotage your plans. I mean, who am I kidding? They enjoy doing all of those things. Nobody wants to suffer with a running injury that keeps us from doing something we enjoy on a regular basis and that keeps us happy and sane. At least I know that’s the case for me.

I have dealt with running injury off and on.

First up, the top of my foot – which I never got a clear diagnosis for but luckily felt better (although never 100%) after a couple weeks off. Then, I made it through my first marathon…only to find myself sidelined with intense pain on the side of my knee any time I tried to run in the weeks following my marathon. After all of that, I finally felt better and started to come back…just to feel my heart injured due to the consistent frustration of the previous months all compounded.

I’m finally back in my running shoes and feeling pretty good. I’m sincerely hoping to take what I have learned and avoid future problems as much as possible. I certainly learned a lot and want to be sure to log it – so hopefully it can help someone else out there and keep me accountable to not making the same mistakes twice.

Follow what fits YOUR body.

Big lesson numero uno. Training for a marathon, I thought that meant I had to run 5 days a week. Pretty much any plan I discovered had that suggested amount of running. Turns out, no good for my body. I know my body does so much better with 3 (maybe 4) days of running per week and ample strength and cross training instead. That will be my focus from here on out. Even when I train for my next marathon…which I have to admit I’m looking at this one…

Read also: 5 Lessons Learned From ACL Injury

Do NOT go too fast or try too much too soon!

By not listening to what works for my body training wise, I ended up ramping up my mileage way too quickly. Go from 3 days of running to 5? Yep. Bound to happen. In the future, I will plan to not only run less days, but be very cautious in how often and by how much I increase mileage from week to week. Remember that rest/recovery/scale back weeks are your friend!

Another lesson? Running with the running group may not work so well for me. My local Running Divas group has a lot of superstar runners who log 8:30 – 9:00 minute miles on their long runs easy breezy. I would try to keep up during my training and it was too fast for my body. I would rather run alone and safely at my own pace, than risk injury. I can still catch up with them before/after runs…or on days I’m doing a shorter distance tempo run!

When you feel pain, seek help.

Thanks to the awesome Kara I found my new best friend when it comes to running pain. A local sports chiropractor has helped me so much!!!! He has miracle hands. On my initial visit, he analyzed my gait and any muscle imbalances I may have. He performed torturous techniques (like the Graston Technique or Active Release Therapy) to relieve muscular tightness and adhesion.

I may have paid good money to end up with ugly bruises, but somehow they helped immensely in the long run thanks to his professional care. I now plan to visit him at least once a month for general injury prevention.

Rest when your body tells you.

Just listen to your body. I feel very lucky that my injuries never knocked me out for greater than a month and were relatively easy to care for and resolve. I credit it to listening to my body and taking time off from running when I felt the need to do so. Even when I just needed a mental break – like in my recent hiatus of a few weeks.

STRETCH. Then, stretch some more!

So many injuries come from imbalances that stem from tight muscles. My calves are my weakness and I know I need to give them some tender loving care with the foam roller on a regular basis now.

Read also: Does Stretching Reduce Risk of Injuries?

For goodness sake, find the right shoes.

Shoes. Shoes. SHOES! I have a bit of a sore spot with running shoes. I ran in a pair that never gave me problems at all for a year. Got fitted and tried something new and different. It did okay for awhile…then the company remodeled the pair completely at the peak mileage of my marathon training.

Read also: Best Running Shoes For Women in UK

I tried to go for a similar style from a different brand than have my feet adjust to all the crazy changes. Well, that landed me in a pair of much too stable shoes and hobbling thanks to my ITB issues. Lesson learned that the type of shoe makes a world of difference and while it can get expensive, it’s worth it to find a good pair that fits your feet and running.

Look at the WHY of your running injury.

NUMERO UNO!! Do this above anything else!!! Sure, when overcoming my injuries I received some pretty painful effective treatments, got new shoes, iced like mad, made the foam roller my security blanket, seriously considered buying stock in KT Tape, and rested up. However, I don’t think any of that would do me any good in the long run if I didn’t try to discover WHY I kept having these issues pop up.

Thanks to the sports chiropractor’s in depth analysis of my wacky legs and feet, I now know that I had serious issues with my running form and that my left gluteus medius muscle was lazy as all get out. I let my hips go all loosey goosey and do NO work in my running, which forced my lower legs to take way more of the brunt work than they should. Enter injury one with the foot pain…which led to injury two of the ITB from compensation and weak hips. Now I have stretches and exercises to strengthen these issues and know what to pay attention to in my running to help avoid future problems.

Dealing With Emotional Impact Of Running Injury

When you recover from a running injury, you realize just how important running is in your life. Because running is a stress reliever for many individuals, you will most likely feel more stressed.
Make an effort not to adopt a “woe is me” mentality. An optimistic outlook can help speed your recovery. Follow these tips to help cope with the psychological strain of not being able to run.

The silver lining to every injury is that once you’re well and running comfortably again, you’ll appreciate it much more. However, be realistic in your goals and aspirations, and take the time you need to recover. I have seen many runners go back to running when their injury is not fully healed and they end up re-injuring themselves. Be smart and patient and you will soon be back to your previous running form.

There you have it. A long winded reminder to myself that I hope can help another avoid or at least handle a future running injury. Let’s run smart, so we can run strong!

Your Turn – Ever dealt with a running injury? What did you learn from it? Any tips for others?