Questions Faced by Injured Runners
A post from a recent facebook running discussion got me thinking about the need for good advice on navigating through the options when faced with a running injury.
The first question that is often asked, is:
Should I do something about this?
Traumatic injuries such as an ankle sprain are more obvious, but what about these sneaky ones that fluctuate or gradually build up over time, or with an increase in training load?
Are they injuries or just a response to training that will settle? As a yardstick that I use for my own running is:
If the pain is:
1. ‘pain’, as opposed to post activity muscle stiffness
2. worse with running (rather than warms up), worse afterwards and especially into the next day or returns at rest or at night.
4. Accompanied by pins and needles, numbness or swelling
These are indicators that this is an injury that will need some intervention.
Then the next tricky question is:
What it is best thing to do?
Should I just rest and cross train for a bit?
On the surface of things, this strategy would appear to address tissue overload from a training error (i.e. too much too soon), however this rarely works on its own, because there usually is some asymmetry in the way that you move, that with repetition has caused, or is contributing to the problem, (otherwise the pain would be the same on both sides). So backing off and building up, ignores the underlying problem(s) and the injury is likely to recur as the training load increases or pop up elsewhere as the body tries to compensate.
Sometimes, changing footwear or doing some general strengthening in the gym during the cross training downtime can do the trick, but it’s a hit and miss strategy with injury, as it may not target all the underlying issues which are often mulitfaceted. With an early diagnosis by a professional and strategies to address the underlying factors, downtime will be well utilised or in fact unnecessary in first place. It will also reduce the risk of the problem becoming chronic.
So if you are best off getting a diagnosis and a management plan, the next question is:
Who do I see?
A diagnosis can be provided by a practitioner such as a sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist or a podiatrist, but in working through your management plan, it’s important that they have a good understanding of running mechanics so that they address the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’.
Organisations such as the ‘Running Clinic’ or ‘The Running School’ provide specialist training for healthcare practitioners in running rehabilitation and technique issues. So either a practitioner with a special interest in running, specialist training, or one that works with coaches and PT trainers is a good call. Each discipline has a particular input so a team approach or access to other specialities is very useful.
The next blog will outline the particular factors that contribute to injury and the roles of each team member, namely:
Sports Massage Therapist