Prevention is the best practice, good warm up and good cooling down period, increase the intensity of the training gradually and always have as guide your body as I mentioned in my previous article “When to change your training’s Status Quo.”
I am not an expert on running, but I learned a lot through a series of minor injuries and one big injury. The way I used to run was not excellent for my body, my form was all bad, I promise I will write an article in the future for the proper form of running. I was abusing my body to achieve other goals, which was to lose weight, the shift from losing weight and rethinking my running goals towards making better personal records took its time. It was in that transition period where I had my most injuries, and that’s because I didn’t know how to train properly, everybody can run, training is another elephant in the room.
So below I am describing practices that helped me with my injuries, I hope some of them help you, I am sure some of them you already use, and I am certain there are much more elements you can incorporate into your training which will help you deal, prevent and heal your running related injuries.
One thing when I first started running back in 2010 was that I did not do a proper warm up I would never stretch, to tell you the truth if I am going to participate in a long run, and this is my little hidden sinful secret, well not secret anymore, I don’t warm up or stretch at all. I know big mistake; I am still relying on my good genes for that! Hey, nobody is perfect.
Now when I am doing hill repeats, or track repeats or tempo runs that will only last 1 hour tops, I do some seriously warm-up, sometimes my warm up and stretching exercises are longer than the actual training time itself.
The reason I am doing that is that all the training activities I mentioned earlier are high in intensity and hard to do, and usually, injuries occur when you are doing there kind of energy demanding efforts.
One of the reasons that I still don’t get injuries while doing my long runs is because the intensity at the begging of the run is slow and not so intense and it gives my body adequate time to warm up “properly” so to speak resulting in me not getting injured.
Another thing I do which helps me maintain my injury-free status is that I run on dirt trails and dirt roads, also the high school track where I train still has soil track, not tartan track. These surfaces are softer and do not afflict the same level of intensity on our body as concrete and pavements do.
If you are a runner in the city, it might be better for you to invest some time going to a place like a park that has dirt roads or if you live near a wooded area do your training there.
It might seem for you now a waste of time but as an injury is a concern is a life saver especially if you're training for a marathon or longer distances. The long runs start to become longer and you will want that extra security blanket that you won't get a serious injury a week just before the marathon race!!! That would suck big time.
Invest some time to learn about what kind of foot you have, do you have over-pronation or supination. A good footwear shop always has equipment and experience personnel to guide you on the purchase of your shoes. Also, there is a ton of info about shoes and feet and running, do a little research it won’t kill you it will make you wiser and prevent a series of injuries that are shoes related.
It is important not to ignore pain, and sayings like: “no pain no gain” for me is just plain stupid. Pain is one of the early warnings of your body telling you, informing you that something is not right and you should investigate immediately and not run through it and hope will go away. I admit I used to do that in the past, and I end up being home sitting on my butt more time that I was out running especially when in 2012 after running my first 50k without proper training end up getting injured with ITBS (iliotibial Band Syndrome). That Injury kept me away from serious training for a good five months, and it was one of the worst times of my life. All of these happened because I was ignorant and not proper prepared.
So with the first sign of the tiniest discomfort not even pain, investigate, check it out and also you can always do something that the running community calls R.I.C.E. no I am not going to argue about which rice is more nutritious than the other, brown or white, brown of course (smile).
R.I.C.E. is an acronym of the words
Apply Ice on the injured area 3 to 4 times during the day. Try to ice the area 10 to 15 minutes every time you apply the ice.
I usually get a towel and ice cubes; I put the ice cubes into the cloth use the towel where I hurt and just leave it there for about 10 minutes.
Also skipping a few training sessions until the pain or the discomfort goes away is a sound tactic and don’t feel you are missing out on training, well you are, but it is better to deal with now when the situation is small and not later when it be out of control. Rest for goodness sake indulge yourself with something else, see it as a break from running and trust me if you are hooked as I am a few days away running make your comeback a fat more pleasurable event.
The elevation is not always possible since you need to raise the affected area above heart level so blood will flow back to the heart decreasing thus the swelling.
Always warm up and do your stretches before running.
Always have a proper cooling down period after running.
Increase Intensity of Training gradually.
Buy shoes that are suitable for your feet.
Do not ignore mild discomforts.
Do not for the love of what you consider holy or not run through pain!
Apply RICE after any pain.
I hope I helped.
Have a healthy and happy day.
My warmest Regards