As a runner you have most likely experienced aches, pains or injuries. Some of the most common injuries are muscle strains and ligaments sprains. Although these are the most serious of injuries, they do need to be taken care of in order to prevent further tissue damage or re-injury. When you encounter a muscle strain or ligament sprain, be prepared with some basic tips to help you recover faster.
Many runners will try to either run through it or just wait it out. It may seem like a hassle to make time to see the doctor, and most of the time you wont be in enough pain to stop. So you wait it out and it goes away, but is that actually healing anything? The pain may go away in a few days but if you don't take precaution the odds of re-injury are good. The best treatment for these annoying injuries is early treatment. This will also allow you to prevent them from happening again in the future! Physical Therapists and Sports Medicine professionals are out there to help you recover and prevent injury,.
Rest Is Essential
I’m talking about actual rest here, not running through an injury or pushing yourself to your limits when you know you shouldn't be. The first several days of an injury are the most important for your body. Your body needs energy to repair damaged tissue during the inflammatory process. If you put pressure on an injured tissue it will damage it further and s your body will not be able to keep up with the breakdown. You will be breaking down tissue faster then your body can build it back up. Listen to your body.
Ice or Heat
A lot of runners out there are always confused about whether to use ice or heat during an injury. While, heat may feel better initially, ice is going to be your best friend though during the first few days of an injury. Always consult with a trained Sports Medicine professional before applying heat to any injury. When you become injured your body will naturally start the inflammatory process, creating swellingaround your injury. Heat will cause vasodilation (a widening of the blood vessels) and create more swelling. Ice is the best option during the initial stages of injury as it will help eliminate excess inflammation instead of promoting it.
Adding compression will help to reduce inflammation. Compression aids in the flushing of any injury site, especially in the lower body as running (and most other activity) requires you to be standing. This will fight against gravity and will prevent any pooling in the lower limbs or specific areas of irritation. Using ice and compression in conjunction will aid significantly in the recovery process.
Not every injury requires Physical Therapy. Chronic injuries will benefit from treatment with a Physical Therapist as provide soft tissue work to the body as well as corrective exercises. A Therapist can also help you get back into running safely especially, if you are a runner who is frequently injured. Treatment will help you increase strength and range of motion over time. Specific exercises can alsohelp prevent future injury.
The next time you get hurt, don’t hesitate. Early treatment is always the best treatment.
Greg Laraia, ATC