How to stay (almost) injury free.

I am proud of the fact that I’ve stayed away from running injuries. I had a bit of trouble with my calf recently, but within a few weeks of modified training and some treatment I was back to normal. This is how I did it:

TI + 0: (Time of injury) I had planned to do a tempo run with 15 minutes of effort, 1 minute walk, then 10 minutes effort. I felt fine during the first section, but as soon as I started the second section it almost felt like my calf seized up. I stopped to stretch, but it didn’t make any difference so I walked back to my car.

TI + 5: I took the next few days off, spending time stretching and attacking my calf with The Stick. It felt better a few days later, so I attempted my long run. Fail! Within 1km my calf was pretty unhappy so I stopped running and headed home to wallow.

TI + 7: I booked in for a massage and she spent an entire hour on my lower legs. It was agony! I’ve always had tight calves and shins, and she seemed happy there was no tear. I was instructed to take it easy for a couple more days to let it settle down, then get back into normal training.

TI + 8: I actually was starting to get sick, so I was happy to just run 20 minutes easy. The calf still didn’t feel great, but not horrible either.

TI + 9: I wanted to test the calf a bit more with a fartlek. I lasted 15 minutes before calling it quits and going for a walk.

TI + 11: My cold was fully blown by now, but I wanted to run a cross country relay (3x4km) with my club. I also decided to try using Roktape on my calf to see if it made any difference. Miraculously I was able to run without pain! And we won our race, even with my dismal performance.

Go Pac!
Go Pac!

TI + 13: Unfortunately the relief was short lived. I ran an easy 40 minutes with the tape on, and the pain came back. I’ve since read that Roktape/kinesio tape isn’t proven to have any benefits, and any effect of it is short lived. It was time to call in the big guns.

TI + 15: Visit to the physio. He took a really extensive case history, did a few assessments, and told me that he thought the trouble was actually nerve pain stemming from my glutes (which had actually been suggested to me by someone else). After the physio spent some time sticking his thumbs into certain areas of my glutes I got up to walk and the pain was gone! I was actually amazed how instantaneous the improvement was. I was able to run 20 minutes that afternoon completely pain free.

TI + 15 and onwards: The pain has not returned. I am doing some hip/glute/core strengthening, stretching and self massage, and I’ve been back to the physio for some more ‘good pain’ to try and release whatever is going on.  Apart from a self sabotaged 5km race (that’s a story for another blog post) my running is back to where it was before this drama began.

The takeaway message: I have a fairly low pain threshold when it comes to bad pain. I can tolerate tattoos, painful massages, and a bit of DOMS but I back off straight away when something doesn’t feel right (which also means that I probably don’t push myself hard enough during races…). Stopping a run early, and taking a few days off is not going to kill me! If this doesn’t improve the situation it’s time to get a professional opinion (and/or treatment). I’ve also discovered that going to see different people to get the correct diagnosis can be beneficial, I think the physio probably used the fact I’d already gotten a massage as part of his differential diagnosis.

And a disclaimer: every injury is different. Just because this worked for me, it may not work for you. When we’re talking about stress fractures or biomechanical issues the game will change entirely!

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One thought on “How to stay (almost) injury free.

  1. This calf thing must be going round, because I’ve just pulled up with what feels like a minor calf injury on the inner part of my right calf. About 20k into my long run on Sunday, it tightened up and felt like a rock. A massage session has calmed it down, but it looks like at least a week off running for me! My physio has long done what it sounds like your physio has suggested – nerve release around the lower back/hip area and I’ve had it work wonders on my knees before.

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