Running injury has become prevalent sports injury due to the massive increase in participation of running events; marathon, 1/2 marathon, 10k, 5k, and a number of different types of fun runs that include bubble or color. I love the idea that so many people are getting up off the couch and preparing for different events all year long.
There has been a surge of phone apps that will prepare a training plan for you to go from “couch to 10k” or what ever distance you choose over a specific period of time. There is one thing, however, that was left out of that training plan… run related injury!!
Recent research has identified a variety of reasons people “think” they get injured, but the reality is that it is something quite different.
Here are 4 misconceptions of running injury that may have put you back on the couch:
#1 New shoes will help my pain go away.
Shoes are by far the first thing runners will relate their run related injury to. Now, there are times where this can be the case. However, if you have spent any amount of time in your shoe just stick with it. When you put on a shoe, it should feel great! Do NOT let anyone tell you that “You will get used to them!” Try not to be brand or model loyal. Switch when you feel that you are ready or need something else. Be careful not to go from one extreme to another. Going from a shoe with a lift at the heel to a flat racing shoe will do more harm than any good.
What you should do: Have your foot, gait, running mechanics assessed to determine your needs. There is a major difference between being video taped at the shoe store and having a professional analysis completed by a physical therapist, exercise physiologist, or biomechanist.
#2 I will rest a few weeks and start back up fresh.
If you start back up running after a few weeks of rest doing the exact same thing as before, would you expect a different result? I think that is the definition of insanity! Periodic rest will help you become faster and stronger. Sitting for 2 weeks hoping the stabbing knee pain goes away is not much of a reality. You may find yourself sitting for much longer!
What you should do: Be active with your rest. A walking program is great. Try underwater running, the same muscles that help you run over the ground can be trained in the water. Stopping will halt your momentum and you may find it difficult to get going again.
#3 I will ice down the pain when I get done running.
This is going to floor a few of you out there. Just think about this philosophy when taking ice out of the freezer: “Ice is for dead bodies!” An injury in the first 24-48 hours can handle elevation, compression, and ice. After 72 hours, you will need movement, heat, and exercise in the form of stretching or gentle movement. Keep the ice in the freezer for a refreshing beverage later on. If “pain” is a major concern, ice can be used to ease the pain beyond 48 hours of the injury.
What you should do: Elevation and compression post run is a great way to recover. While not everyone has compression boots, you can still utilize socks and putting your legs up! Active rest is always a good idea too!
#4 I need to get more flexible.
Increased flexibility is not protective of an overuse injury. Let that digest for a minute. Now think about what I said. Flexibility is an indicator of overall muscle health, but it does not protect against high milage running, poor running mechanics, or repetitive stress injury. In fact, there are times when there is a tendon injury over stretching will continue to increase pain and prevent the necessary healing to take place. Stretching incorrectly will almost do the same thing as stretching a cotton shirt over and over. The more you pull and stretch, it turns into see through material and looks worn. Sloppy and lose muscles are not very good at preventing injury!
What you should do: Proper warm up and cool down is hands down the best way to prepare and finish any kind of workout. Foam rolling has become a popular way to “smash” the muscle to relieve trigger points or soreness in the muscle. Isolate the “hot” spot and begin to self treat. Lacrosse balls and massage sticks are great for “spot” treating. Be careful not to over do it. You can make something far worse than it was before by over treating the area.