I’ve had a lot of running injuries. I mean, I have had A LOT of running injuries. Don’t believe me? Check out this photo of the various running rehab items I have used over the past 12+ years.
In fact, there are but a few running injuries I have not had, as evidenced by my listing: shin splints, medial tibial stress syndrome (yes, that is a real thing), bursitis of the knee, illiotibial band syndrome (ITBS), bursitis of the hip, a pulled groin (he he, I said groin), Achilles tendonitis, and the worst of the worst (cue Darth Vader music): plantar fasciitis (PF). I have stupidly run through some injuries, only to make them worse and have taken months off (and refrained from wearing heels) only to have my injury (PF) not really improve. I have had cortisone shots in my FOOT (yes, that killed). I have been through physical therapy twice (three times if you count the time I was hit by a truck and fractured my collarbone, but that was not related to running) and, when I listened, it actually worked. Some may wonder why I still run. But, if you have read any of the previous posts, you know. I want to keep running and I NEED to keep running. It is just part of who I am. Thus, explaining the small fortune I have spent on the cache of rehab paraphernalia.
Now, I am not a medical doctor – I have a JD, not an MD – and I am, in no way, giving you any advice on how to treat your individual injury (that’s my lawyerly disclaimer). If you have had a persistent injury, go see a medical professional, preferably a sports medicine doctor – someone who specializes in dealing with people like us. People who want to be fixed so that we can get back out on the road or trail.
Short of going to a sports medicine doctor (which I have had to do twice), I have figured out a few things that have worked for me. Of course, I am not even going to pretend that I follow my own tips or listen to my body at every turn. Nope, not even a chance. I’m stubborn and I don’t like to give up. If I set out for a goal, I want to reach it, even if my leg falls off in the process. But, that is not really all that sensible (I originally had sensical here, but my husband (aka Mr. Fancy Pants PhD candidate) informed me that sensical is not, in fact, a word) if I want to actually keep running long term. So, instead, I try to do a few of these things:
- Increase mileage gradually – 10 to 20 % per week or 1 mile per week for long runs. Same for speed and speedwork.
- Listen to the body. If something hurts, slow down (no speed work), rest it, and ice it. When it starts to improve, gradually increase mileage to previous levels.
- The foam roller is a miracle worker. Whenever my IT band starts to act up, I roll it out on the foam roller. It is a “hurt so good” type of feeling, but definitely worth it.
- The golf ball is to plantar fasciitis as the foam roller is to ITBS. Same deal – whenever my PF it starts to act up, I massage it out with the golf ball.
- I have no idea how Rock Tape or Kinesio tape works, but it does (I am partial to Rock Tape, but both work well). I wrap it around my arch or put a strip under my knee when I feel little kinks. I have also put a strip on my IT band, starting from my hip when that feels owie (I don’t care if that’s not a real word – it is in our house and probably most of yours).
- Yoga, yoga, and more yoga. For me, I have found that when I do yoga regularly, I am much less likely to become injured. Even if it is only 20 minutes a week, it helps.
- And in that same vein, do something other than running. Cross-train, cycling, weights, whatever. Just do something on the off-running days.
- Running three to four times per week is what works for me. It leaves time for yoga and cross training and gives my body a break from the repetition of running.
- Keep the core (including hips) and feet strong. I don’t have a lot of extra time, so I do my physical therapy exercises (leg lifts, hip exercises, etc.) during my cross-training workouts. I stretch whenever I can and need to, wherever I might be. Frequently, this is while drying my hair in the mornings (quite the visual, eh?). For my feet (also while drying my hair), I balance on one foot for as long as I can. I close my eyes to make it tougher. This works those little muscles in my feet to keep them strong(ish) and to hopefully stave off the dreaded PF (is that Darth Vader music again?).
- Massage. Oh, the miracles that a good massage therapist can work. I started seeing a massage therapist regularly when my husband was deployed (I had just a tad bit of stress going on) and have continued to go when I can. She can feel and sometimes see the tension in certain areas and knows how to remedy it. In my experience, I have found that massage therapists associated with physical therapists or (a good) chiropractic office have more experience with sports massages than those at a spa or chain massage establishment.
And there you have it. That’s pretty much all I can think of for know. Plus, I’m tired and still need to proof read this thing. Keep running, listen to your body, and have fun!