How to Treat a Running Injury
For the most part of my 12-year running career, I’ve ran mainly injury free. In this calendar year, I’ve somehow strained my Achilles twice and knee once (that one lasted like three days).
Last Monday, I was out for a run and really pushing the speed. I could feel some pain on the outside of my lower leg but just ignored it. I had felt it the day before when I ran the Women’s Health Run 10 Feed 10 10K and just on my runs throughout the week after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. But I just kept ignoring it and running out it. About 4 miles in, the pain was bad enough that I had started to limp a little bit. I looked down at my watch and I eventually slowed down two minutes per mile slower than I had started. I got in the shower and could barely put weight on my foot.
I was pretty convinced I had given myself a stress fracture. I had been going to SoulCycle 3-4 times a week lately on top of my runs and running two races back to back. I did two workouts I wasn’t used to the week before, too. As I sat furiously googling “stress fracture” and “Achilles tendinitis” I self-diagnosed myself with tendinitis because that is what I self-diagnosed myself with this winter and somehow healed myself.
Moral of the story – I let a little pain go too far but if I had kept pushing it this past week, I think I would have prolonged the issue. As soon as the pain got really bad, (I’ll say it was an 8 on a scale of 1-10 but I have a low pain tolerance… I think) I stopped running.
How to Treat a Running Injury
- See a doctor: I’m lazy and didn’t feel like going through all the effort of finding a sports medicine doctor in San Francisco and having them tell me to stop running forever, so I didn’t see a doctor. But I had a terrible injury in high school and saw a doctor and a year and a half of physical therapy later, I was healed.
- Rest: I don’t do well with rest. I hate resting. I start getting sad when I can’t run and irritable and angry and I’m just not a person you want to be around. But seriously, stop running. At least for a couple days. Go swim or ride the stationary bike or literally rest, but don’t pound the pavement.
- Ice: “20 minutes on, 20 minutes off” if you want to be specific but I basically just do “until my leg gets too cold and then when I feel like it’s been 20 minutes”.
- Tape: In my research, I saw that taping the injured area helped. I used to have to tape my shins or ankles in high school for various whatever reasons. I remembered I had KT Tape in my closet from a race swag bag recently and watched a video on how to apply it for Achilles Tendinitis. At this point, I’ve basically become a MD.
- Keep the muscles loose: This also goes along with swimming, spinning, etc. If you’re not working an injured muscle in some capacity it will get too stiff and not continue to heal. Stretch it out, go to yoga, walk – trust me, it helps.
- Run: Counter-intiutitive, I know. This winter I ran slowly on my Achilles my first few runs back. Did it hurt at first? Yeah, a little. Then it stopped. Then it felt fine mostly. Just listen to your body. If it starts to feel better – not worse – a half mile or so in, keep on running. If not, stop. But leave the watch at home for this run.
If you find yourself consistently getting injured, you probably need to ask yourself a few questions: Am I wearing the right shoes? Am I taking care of my body properly, be it nutrition or stretching or strength training or taking actual rest days? I’m slowly learning that every body is different. Just because an elite runner can log 100 mile weeks and do two workouts a day doesn’t mean my body can. It doesn’t make me any better or worse, it just means I didn’t hit the genetic running lottery. I did hit the genetic humor letter so there’s that. (JK)
Now… what am I going to commit to this November so I can get back into LA Marathon training full-force? Foam rolling + stretching + yoga (I’ve actually been way better about this the past few months), strength training (I really mean it this time) and rest days (a new concept in my life).
Chat with me:
What other tips do you have for dealing with a running injury? Have you ever been injured? What genetic lottery trait did you win?