Injuries whilst doing any sport are commonplace, and running injuries are just as much so. I have even known those that use them as a badge of honour, which to me is slightly odd. Injuries occur through overuse or accident! Overuse is a very generic term which in generic terms also means you’re doing an activity that your body isn’t strong enough to do. So it is relative to the individual. In the case of running it is common place to see the formula of, do not increase your running by more than 10% either in mileage OR speed never both at the same time, this in general terms is perfectly good, however each runner will have an injury threshold, dependent on their strength and genetics to some extent. So if you are constantly finding yourself injured, start noting the distances/speed that you are running, and look at what level you run free of injury, this may need to be your cut off, until you have increased your strength and taken advice from a coach.
Reasons runners become injured.
• The strength and flexibility of your body in relation to the mileage run is insufficient.
• Running the same route every single day (the camber in the road will affect you)
• Too much speed training
• Inadequate nutrition and hydration.
• Not enough sleep.
• Too much uphill training (or downhill)
• A sudden change in training intensity
• Inadequate shoes for your pronation at toe off (gait).
• Increasing mileage and speed disproportionate to experience, (had a chat with a mate in the pub, and he said…..).
• Always road running.
• Ignoring strength and conditioning (I just want to run).
So what do you if you become injured?
OK, well that really depends on the extent of the injury really, some injuries are obvious and you take a trip to A&E immediately. But what about those that are not quite so obvious, and they seem to appear out of nowhere (they don’t come out of nowhere by the way). Well for soft tissue injuries first thing is the old mnemonic RICE. As soon as possible and repeat icing at least hourly for the first 24 hours.
R = Rest
I = Ice
C = Compression
E = Elevate
If it doesn’t improve see a doctor!
What happens after injury
Most runners I know have had some sort of injury whether acute or chronic at some point in their lives. You may be lucky and all that is required is rest for a couple of weeks (a light sprain for example) and then you are set to go again, other injuries are not quite so forgiving. If you have needed medical advice and have been referred to a physio it would be helpful for all concerned if you had the following information.
• Did you have any niggles leading up to the injury and where
• What were you doing when you were injured?
• How did it feel, sharp, ache etc.
• Have you had something like it before?
• Do you have pain in any other part of your body
You may think about taking a pen and paper and asking questions for yourself. Write the replies down, otherwise you will forget, if your physio or doc, says do the rehab exercises 4 times per day, then do them, they are the experts.
You can try asking questions like;
• What should I do to prevent a recurrence?
• When can I start running/sport again?
• Is there anything I can do to keep my fitness up?
• How often and how long should I be doing the rehab exercises?
There may be a whole load of other questions you might have, write them down. Remember some of the questions may not have a definitive answer and how long is a piece of rope answers may not appear helpful but remember each injury is relative to the individual, do your rehab for as long as it takes, however boring and your will reduce the chance of it becoming a recurring injury in the long term.
Serious Injuries and degenerative conditions
Severe trauma injuries and degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis may permanently change the structure of your musculoskeletal structure, this would need very careful management from qualified professionals and may end your running career, always take advice before starting any sport if you suffer or have suffered from a degenerative injury or a serious accident.
Running like any sport needs particular skills and strength to take part smoothly and enjoyably. It is worth then considering joining a running group or having individual coaching when you first start, you will pick up so much information that you didn’t even think you needed to know and of course do not forget your strength and conditioning. It will save you in the long run.