As I am trying to get rid of a persistent injury in my calf I decided to write about this and other injuries runners often encounter at some time in training. In the last few years I have suffered a few injuries, most seriously a stress fracture in my tibia and an ankle broken in two places (after tripping on a twig!). Other injuries have been short lived including calf strains, achy quads and tight glutes resulting in hip pain.
Whenever an injury strikes I always use RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to help minimise the effects and in addition to these I use massage therapy to bring blood to the muscles and break down scar tissue. Rest is the hardest thing to do when you run a lot but it is necessary for recovery. In fact many injuries strike because we have not rested enough and the muscles get tight and unable to cope with the demands we are placing on them.
So what do we do when we are injured and can’t run? Through all of my injuries I have been able to cross train. It was difficult with my leg in plaster but I made it to the gym (via taxi) a couple of times a week and used the ‘time off’ to work on my core stability and isolated leg exercises. Swimming ( when you have no body parts in plaster) is a great way to keep your fitness levels from plummetting and lifting weights keeps muscle definition.
One thing I was really bad at after an injury was coming back to running gradually. I almost always tried to get my fitness back to where it was too quickly and end up injured again. It is a hard lesson to learn but it pays to gradually increase the length and intensity of the runs over a few weeks, even months depending on the length of time off and the injury.
I have found that rest days, however hard they seem, as well as cross training to keep muscles strong and flexible and regular massage helps prevents injuries occurring in the first place. Prevention is always better than cure.