Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dealing with Injury

A few of my friends have been recently diagnosed with stress fractures.  Although a rather common injury among long distance runners, listening to those dreaded words is the last thing a runner wants to hear.  My friend and Oiselle teammate {Lauretta} is one of my friends who is rehabbing from a fracture, and she asked me if I could write a post on how to get through an injury while still maintaining a fitness level {and sanity}.  

Swimming. In my experience, nothing can compare to running.  But when the doctor puts a runner on hiatus, swimming comes in at a close second.  Over the summer, I was suffering from Achilles tendonitis that sidelined me for a while.  During that time, I spent many hours in the pool, swimming more laps than I ever thought I could.  Jesse was nice enough to meet me with workouts in hand, some distance-oriented and some that incorporated more speed.  I think he personally enjoyed coaching swimming for a change, and he gave me workouts that he could potentially give his injured athletes in the future.  Like I said, nothing can compare to running, but after weeks in the pool, my fitness level pretty much stayed the same and the only thing I lost was my racing/hard workout sharpness, which quickly returned after a few weeks.  Many people like to do pool running, which is excellent as well, but I think old-fashioned swimming was my perfect remedy.  

If you would like to visit some of those swimming posts for workout ideas, you can do so below. 

Slow Down.  In my opinion, when injuries happen it is the body’s way of telling us to slow down.  Therefore, when I have aches and pains, I am not afraid to reduce my mileage, or take off completely.  It is also equally important to listen to the doctor’s orders.  If they say a stress fracture will take 4 – 6 weeks to heal with no running, listen to them.  Wear the unfashionable boot and suck it up.   

Be patient.  Another friend was on the tail end of her stress fracture recovery and ran a race that she was slated to compete in prior to the injury.  She was feeling better and her foot didn't hurt, so she decided to still run.  That one race landed her two more weeks in the boot she was wearing. 

Relax.  Sometimes life gets a little hectic with trying to balance a job, training, family and household duties.  If you are prescribed a certain period of time off, enjoy it!  Go home after work and enjoy the extra free time you have.  Maybe even have a glass of wine before 8pm!

Rehab. Many injuries come with some sort of physical therapy and/or stretches.  Do them.  Period. 

Take it slow on the rebound.  Once granted permission to run, take it easy.  Increase mileage little by little {using pain as your gauge} and try not to overdo it.  A few extra miles aren't worth risking more time off.     

I always believe that running is a journey.  Like life, there are ups and downs, trials and tribulations.  Injuries are inevitable, even with the best shoes, diet, form, etc.  But when they happen, take it in stride.  Do what you can to maintain physical fitness by resting and recovering, and soon enough...you will be back on the roads before you know it.  Again, it's all a part of the running journey…but in the end, your body will thank you for being patient and listening to what it has to tell you.  

What are your tips for dealing with injuries?

The above paragraphs are based on my personal experiences and opinions.  For medical advice, please contact your physician or sports orthopedic doctor.   

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