Hampered by injury? Here are my top tips on how to deal with injury and get back to running in a sustainable way.
Get diagnosed by a professional – speak to your GP or physio if you are suffering with pain when running. You can’t begin to treat an injury unless you know what the problem is. Instead of second guessing and playing ‘doctor google’ see an expert. This may take a few weeks via the NHS so book an appointment when the pain is a niggle as opposed to chronic.
Get to the root cause of the injury – try to understand the cause and factors that contributed to your injury in the first place. If you keep a training log, reading this retrospectively it may be clear what led to the injury – was it upping mileage, intensity or technique? Having this understanding will enable you to prevent this injury happening in the future.
Do your exercises – So you’ve been to see the physio and you’ve been set exercises which are great for the first few days but it’s hard to find the time and motivation to continue them. As time goes on you forget the exercises and fail to go back to the physio. Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been there. My tips are carve out small sections in the day where you do your exercises , put an alarm on your phone, tell others that is what you are doing so you are accountable to them. Book a follow up appointment with your physio so you have a goal to work towards.
Find other ways of cross training – if you are a relatively new runner you may have been surprised to get your first feeling of ‘runner’s envy’ watching someone else run whilst you are unable to do so. Channel that feeling into other training that will keep your cardio vascular system working and strengthen muscles.
Rest – you may have been told not to run at all, or just to do so very gently for short periods of time. Whichever way going out and training as normal, or doing events isn’t going to help your recover in the long run. Get your endorphin rush from other types of cross training like cycling or swimming that are non-impactful. In the early days of an injury ice, elevation and an anti-inflammatory will assist with reducing swelling.
Footwear – whilst generally I am an advocate of flatter profile/ neutral running shoes (I run in Newtons ) that give the runner feedback and in the long term build a stronger foot and lower leg than relying on a supportive shoe I am aware that for some runners supportive trainers, inserts and orthotics are the only solution. Consider refreshing your trainers (they should only do 500 miles anyway) to assist with injury prevention.
Technique – the cause of your running woes may be due to poor running technique. For example heel striking can often lead to knee issues. Get a professional to look at your running and spot any areas for improvement. Changing your technique won’t be an overnight process and you may experience other niggles along the way, but proper technique should set you up for as much injury free running as possible.
Running competitor has done a nice overview of the most common runner’s injuries, the symptoms, causes and basic treatment here