Injury among runners and long distance athletes are very common, but that doesn’t mean that one can not avoid an injury or recover from it quickly to get back on their feet. It might be surprising but the fact is that most running injuries are a result of over training. So the best way to ward off any injury is to not over train and use a simple thumb-rule of increasing your mileage by 10% every week. Strength training with key focus on the core and leg exercises also helps in staying away from injuries. Before looking at ways to recover faster, lets discuss how to avoid running injuries in the first place.
Avoiding running related injuries
With winter already at the doorstep, many of you might be planning to start their fitness regime by running regularly. For newbies, it’s important to start with small distance initially and not to run a marathon distance in the beginning. Our muscles, tendons, bones and nerves, all play key role in your running and we need to give time to them to recover before going for the next run. Continue eating a protein rich diet to help muscles recover faster. Running @ 3-4 times a week initially and increase the distance by only 10% every week will help you not get injured. Warming up by doing stretching before and after a run is a good way to to avoid injuries. Spend about 5-10 mins before and after a run and you wont get to hear the names such as runner’s knee, achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, pulled hamstring etc. from your doctor. The intensity of an injury can also be reduced by investing in good shoes depending on the type of your pronation.
Recovering quickly from an injury
It’s worth noting that different injuries need different treatments, there are different ways to recover from different injuries and you can’t use the same technique to recover from them. Please also keep in mind not to rush through your recovery process and please don’t head out for a run when you are still in pain. Taking proper rest and undergoing certain therapies and exercise (if needed) is important when you are suffering from a running injury. Always take enough rest in before getting back to running, failing to do so would result in doing more harm than good.
The therapy that can help you to bounce back quickly from an injury is called RICE therapy. RICE here essentially means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Rest: Rest and protect the injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.You can alternatively consider different exercise such as cycling, swimming etc.
Ice: Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack right away to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the area that hurts. Do not apply ice or heat directly to the skin. Place a towel over the cold or heat pack before applying it to the skin.
Compression: Compression, or wrapping the injured or sore area with an elastic bandage, will help decrease swelling. Don’t wrap it too tightly, because this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage. Talk to your doctor if you think you need to use a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours; a more serious problem may be present.
Elevation: Elevate the injured or sore area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling. This helps in proper blood circulation which further quickens the healing process.