Monday, November 13, 2017

Preventing, Detecting, Stopping and Healing Injuries

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that runners are the worst when it comes to healing.  And I'm not about to disagree with that. I have been guilty several times for not taking doctors orders, which only lead to more, longer injuries and more people telling me to stop running. So let's talk about this for a minute. Maybe it's the way that they say it? "You need to stop running..."? I dunno, all I know is that no runner wants to be told to stop.

If we take care of ourselves, though, in the first place, no one will be telling us to stop running. So today I wanted to talk about injuries. How to prevent them, know they are coming, how to stop them from getting worse, and what to do to make sure you get back to running as quick as you can.

First, let's talk about how to prevent them. You always hear the tips but do you actually do them?  Some of these are really hard for me to do.

  • Stretching- this is probably one of the hardest things for me to remember. Before and after a run, or any workout, there should be some good stretching. If you need to know what stretches are best for runners, you can find a whole bunch of them by googling it.

  • Warm up- This is one that I almost never do. It's not a good habit, but I always feel like "I'm running anyway...I'll just warm up while I'm running. I have been better at this lately thanks to Aaptiv, (which is an app that I'll be talking about again soon in another post).

  • Icing- This is something that I used to be really good at (do you see a pattern here?) I loved to ice after track and cross country.  When I graduated I realized that my freezer doesn't automatically make ice cups. And since then, I always forget to ice unless I'm injured.

  • Rest days- This is something I am good at! I make sure to get at least one rest day a week, two if I'm feeling like I'm extra tired or really sore. Giving your body enough time to recover is extremely important to make sure you are staying healthy and to reach your best potential in your running.

  • Good shoes- It's fairly rare that you will ever see me in heels or flats. I wear them to church or fancy events, but other than that I usually wear my old running shoes. Part of this is because I have tiny feet and it's hard to find anything in my size five shoes. But the other part of this is because wearing heels and flats can be really bad for your feet. It can cause a lot of injuries and soreness problems. Make sure you have a good pair of shoes that you can comfortably walk around in all day. 

So how can you know that an injury is coming? There are always a few signs that your body gives you to let you know that you might be getting injured and it might be a good time to add an extra rest day or take a few days off altogether.

  • Aches and Pains- For me, this is the biggest sign that something is going to happen if I don't change something. These are not big full-on pains, these are little annoying aches that are more just there and nagging you. Right now, for example, my foot starts to get a little ache-y in the afternoon.  Nothing that stops me from walking around or disrupts my day, but something I should definitely be paying attention to.

  • Pace- When you have several runs in a row that you just can't hit a pace that you normally can hit consistently, your body is telling you that it needs a break. Which can feel really frustrating because the first instinct to not hitting your paces for several workouts in a row is to work harder.

  • Tired- Feeling tired all the time is a sign that your body needs more rest. Especially when you're feeling like you're sleeping really well at night and you're still tired. This could be a sign that your body needs an extra rest day or that something isn't healing all the way before you work it again.

How to stop them from getting worse. This can save so much time, money and frustration!  When you feel like an injury might be coming on here are somethings to try to see if it will help. Always remember that if you are injured, you should talk to a medical professional about it. I'm not a doctor, I've just had a lot of experience in this area and my advice shouldn't be taken as a doctor's advice would.

  • Take a break- This is probably the best way to make sure that an ache or pain doesn't turn into an injury. It doesn't always need to be a long break. Even an extra day or two can be a huge help.  If this seems like the best option for you right now, stay off your feet as much as you can for a few days.

  • Cross Train- Cross training is a great way to help you strengthen your muscles in a way that you don't normally do.  It also helps with endurance and cardio. My favorite way to cross train is to strength train for my full body. I love doing HIIT workouts and adding some weights where I can. I also really like to go hiking as cross training because it means that I also get to see some pretty amazing places. But it can be anything else you want to do. You can bike, swim, play basketball, lift weights, yoga, etc... How you cross train is completely up to you.  You'll be surprised how much this can not only help sore muscles and potential injuries feel better but actually improve your running.

  • Make a change- This could mean so many things. Change your running frequency or pace. Slow down a little bit for a few runs. Switch a number of hard runs you do in a week. Change your running schedule so that you don't have 2 speed work days in a row, give yourself enough time to heal completely.

  • Get new shoes- My favorite excuse...I mean...favorite way to stop an injury. You should be getting new shoes every 500 miles or so that you put on them. Once they have broken down so much, it's time to get new ones that are right for your feet. Also with shoes, every person is different and not every shoe is going to be perfect for your feet in particular.  I've had foot injuries pop up from having the wrong shoe for me. To make sure you're getting the right shoe for you, got to any running store and have them do a gait analysis. They will be able to tell you what kind of shoe you need and have you try a few out so that you can find the best one for you.

  • Massage- A full body massage is fantastic but can get expensive on a regular basis. I suggest finding a good foam roller or getting something like this body wrench to help you give your muscles some good attention.  I usually try to add these things into my stretching routine.  Foam rolling helps to increase blood flow to your muscles to help with loosening them up and repairing them after a workout. When my body is feeling especially sore or tired I make sure to foam roll and stretch really well so that my body can recover faster. 

So what happens if you really are injured?

  • Talk to your doctor.  If they give you the OK to continue to workout, take a break from running and cross train for a while. You might be surprised with how much strength training, HIIT workouts, Biking, and other workouts can actually help you with your running.

  • RICE- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Every doctor will tell you these things are good for recovery. It's better to do them and get better faster than to not do them and have to take way more time off.

What is your favorite tip to prevent injury?

What is the longest amount of time you've had to take off for an injury?


  1. I didn't know that flats had the same effect as heels on your feet.

    1. It probably depends on the person. For me it does and I can feel a lot of aches and pains after wearing them for a few days. My husband is a minimalist shoe guy though and flats feel great for his feet. He has low arches and I have very high arches. So it definitely varies from person to person!