If you’re a serious runner, you probably hate missing a run for any reason. Like the old faithful U.S. Postal Service, whether rain, shine, sleet, or snow, you’re out there doing your roadwork.
Many experienced runners even run through pain. In fact, many elite runners are in a perpetual state of pain. But, most of us aren’t elite runners and there are times when concerns about pain cause us to skip our beloved run. Why are running and pain such steadfast bedfellows?
Running puts a lot of stress on lower extremities; that’s part of the reason why running is such an efficient form of exercise. Consistent running stress can lead to injuries, especially when you really push yourself during race training or when you’re trying to reach a new personal best. Running also can put you in harms way for a slip or stumble that can lead to pain. Stretching is generally good, but improper stretching can also cause injury and pain.
Many elite runners are in a perpetual state of pain.
So what’s the best way to deal with running injuries? Whether it’s “runner’s knee,” tendinitis, or a sprain, follow these steps to get back to full health.
1) Stop Running (at least temporarily)
Rest helps the healing process for most injuries. When it comes to running, the repeated shock of your foot hitting pavement can lead to stress injuries in your ankles, shins, knees, and hips. As much as we runners hate the idea of slowing down and, God forbid, canceling our runs, sometimes that’s the best advice to keep a minor nagging injury from becoming a major problem. A few days off your feet is a small price to pay to prevent serious injury.
2) Slow Down
If you can’t bear the thought of missing your running workout, try slowing down or reducing your mileage for a few days, or run every other day until the pain subsides. Certain injuries, like tendinitis, actually respond well to light workouts and will heal faster than simply resting.
3) Cold Treatment
Cold treatment is the most common prescription for a running injury. Cold will ease pain, reduce swelling, and help your body recover faster. Treat any pain post-run pain with a brief cold Therma1 roller massage followed by a cold pack.
4) Hit The Gym
Running is great exercise, but mixing up your running with strength exercises can help you prevent running injuries. Knee injuries are common consequences of serious runners. Weight training, like squats, lunges, and leg curls, can strengthen the muscles around your knees, which helps prevent injuries. Full body weight training is also great for general fitness and can help you reduce your times while providing exercise diversity.
5) Check Your Equipment
The general advice for serious runners (20 or more miles per week) is to change your running shoes every three to six months. There is also some scientific evidence that compression sleeves and knee straps help reduce pain and symptoms of running injuries.
By following these 5 tips, you may not completely avoid injury but chances are you’ll improve the quality of your running life.