They happen to even the best of runners. However, how do you respond when injuries come your way?
1.) Ignore the pain and continue to run through?
2.) Listen to your body and allow yourself to heal?
I worked for 12 years as a licensed Physical Therapist and primarily treated overuse injuries. Therefore, I have seen firsthand what happens when you ignore the pain and continue to work through it.
Many of my patients were working repetitive jobs and had to keep working through the pain until their doctor put them on restrictions or took them off work. And what I found was the injuries that took the longest to heal, were the injuries that were most chronic.
I would explain it this way.
When you have pain in your body, it is similar to a "check engine" light in your car. The pain alerts you that something might be wrong. It does not mean there is anything serious going on, but it does indicate you should at least look into what might be causing the problem.
If you ignore a "check engine" light in your car, it could lead to bigger problems and more expense.
And when you ignore pain in your body as a runner, it could lead to a bigger injury and more time off later on.
Normal Aches and Pains
Now, I know there will be aches and pains as we run. My husband, CJ, often says that your legs need to get hardened to new distances, new terrain, etc.
I get that.
And so you can't stop running every time a little ache or pain pops up. Sometimes the saying, "No Pain, No Gain" is true. But, sometimes it's not.
I believe it is important to listen to your body and investigate further when you start to have pain.
Listening to my body...
I did this back in April. March was a big racing month for me. I raced two 5k's and PR'd both times. I also wore racing flats for the first time. Since I tend to have flat feet, I wondered how my body would react to the minimal support provided by the racing flats.
After increasing my mileage and pushing my body to new PR's, my feet started to ache. I kept running through the pain until I started to get numbness on top of the aching. This is when I realized something more serious was going on.
I saw my chiropractor, used a foam roller to roll out my calves, applied ice, and decided to back off my miles. I didn't have any races planned for April and decided to not race for an entire month.
And in this case, it helped. It was the right decision. By May I was back to running pain free and was able to start training for the Garden of the Gods 10 mile race.
Thankfully, I have continued to stay pain free. So far. I'm sure I will face other aches and pains along the way. It is a part of being a runner. However, for today, I am thankful to run another day pain free.
What about you? How do you typically respond to injuries?