Tips Archives: Injuries
Is It An Injury? What Are
- Inflammation: look for swelling around the injury site.
- Loss of Function: the muscle, foot, tendon, etc. doesn't work
the way it should.
- Extended Pain: which increases or hurts consistently for a week
As you become more sensitive to some of your possible "weak links",
you'll take time off for recovery and treatment at the earliest
of warning signs. Quick and early action will cut down on the chance
that you'll have to spend weeks or even months of recovery later.
Benefits of an Injury
You can actually benefit from an injury: if you analyze what went
wrong, you can use this knowledge to prevent not only reoccurrence
of the same injury, but other injuries as well. Most injuries have
the same general causes: you increased mileage too much; you didn't
rest enough between hard days; you didn't warm up enough for a speed
workout; you let the adrenalin rush of a race push you too far.
I've also come to believe that dehydration is one of the major underlying
causes of injury....
For more information, see page 207 of Galloway Book on Running.
What to do if you get injured?
Most common sites of "weak links"
3. Achilles Tendon
Beware of areas which
- get sore first
- are repeatedly sore, painful, or inflamed
- take longer to warm up
- have been sites of injury before
- are not functioning their usual way
As you become more sensitive to these areas, you'll take time off
for recovery and treatment at the earliest of warning signs. Quick
and early action will cut down on the chance that you'll have to
spend weeks or months of recovery later.
Is it an injury? What are the signs?
- Inflammation: look for swelling around the injury site
- loss of function: the muscle, foot, tendon, etc. doesn't work
the way it should
- extended pain: which increases or hurts consistently for a week
Injuries: How to treat them
- Get a doctor who knows running and stay in touch with him or
her. Getting a good diagnosis can speed the treatment and get
you back on the roads quicker.
- Don't stretch the area until it heals (unless you've injured
the I-T band-ask you doctor).
- Stop activity that could possibly use the injured site for at
least one to two days. In most cases your doctor will tell you
that the injury doesn't have to heal completely before you run
again, but you must get the healing started and continue a program
that doesn't re-injure it. Again, talk to the Doc.
- Ice! If the injury site is near the surface of the body, ice
massage will usually help. Be sure to use a chunk of ice and rub
it directly on the injured area until it is numb (usually 10 to
12 minutes). Be sure to ice at the first sign of injury, ice as
soon as possible after exercise, and keep icing for at least a
week after the pain goes away. The regularity of the ice treatment
is very important so do it every day!
- Compression will help to restrain further inflammation. Wrapping
a sprained ankle after injury will reduce the inflammation. This
is another area where your running-oriented physician should advise
- Elevation can help to reduce inflammation.
- Massage can dramatically speed up the healing of muscle injuries.
A massage therapist or physical therapist, who is experienced
in working with runners, should be able to advise you 1) whether
your injury will heal quicker with massage and 2) when it's time
to work on it (immediately after injury is not usually a good
How Much Conditioning Do
You'll be surprised to learn how little conditioning you'll lose
in five days of complete rest. For each week thereafter you'll lose
about 25% of your fitness level. After a month you'll need to start
like a beginner.
Rule of Thumb: If you were unable to do alternative exercises,
you'll need at least twice the number of weeks you took off to gradually
build back to pre-injury level.
How Much Conditioning Do You Lose? Rest Time Without Any Exercise,
Estimated % of Conditioning Lost
1-5 days, 0-1% 7 days, 10% 14 days, 35% 21 days, 60% 28 days, 85%
35 or more, 100% Note from Jeff: This is based on my experiences
with over a hundred layoff injuries.
There are many marathons and half marathons at this time of the
year as well as in the Fall. For those of you running long distances
in your training and in actual events, here are a few tips for recovery:
- Enough days off from running each week
- Long runs which are slow enough - with walk breaks
- Walking the rest interval between mile repeats
- Starting out every run very slowly (at least three minutes per
mile slower than you could run the distance you plan to run).
You can speed up later in the run if everything is okay ... Just
start very slowly.
- Making sure that you are recovered enough from the weekend sessions
before you do any tempo running, accelerations, etc. during the
maintenance runs on weekdays
When to stretch
Most runners think they should stretch just before running. You
see them everywhere, legs on benches, leaning against buildings-getting
ready to run. I don't recommend this. Just before running, the muscles
are tight and may pull or strain easily. You are particularly at
risk early in the morning when you're cold and blood flow is minimal.
Pushing a cold muscle, tendon or joint often leads to injury.
Stretching right after running is also a risky proposition. The
muscles don't simply stop all activity when you stop running. They
are still "revved up" and ready to respond for about 30 minutes;
stretching may cause them to spasm. When they are working hard like
this, a stretch often activates the stretch reflex - leaving you
tighter than before.
The best time to stretch is after the body is warmed up, relaxed,
and when the blood is moving. Since many runners do stretch incorrectly,
it's best to wait and stretch after warming up. Don't stretch to
warm the muscles up; it won't work. Stretch in the evening, for
example, or throughout the day as you have time. Many of my friends
use stretching as a nice way to prepare for sleep.
How runners should stretch. Only a relaxed muscle can be extended
safely and comfortably.
Start with a gentle massage.
By gently kneading the calf, hamstring, butt and lower back, you
increase blood flow and loosen up the muscles. For about five minutes,
use your 10 magic fingers to work out any knots, but don't apply
any deep penetrating pressure.
Gradually and slowly move into the stretch.
Back off from any tension and hold that relaxed extension for at
least 10-20 seconds. If you feel the slightest pressure or pain,
or if the muscle starts shaking, you've gone too far. Ease back
until you are relaxed again.
Finish the stretch by slowly easing out of it.
The Principles of Stretching
Benefits come through steady, regular sessions of gentle muscle
extension. Just as tightness builds up through years of standing,
walking and running so will it subside only gradually - through
months of gentle extension.
Decades ago, runners did bouncing stretches. It was thought that
a jolt to the muscle gave it the extension it needed. More recent
research has shown, however, that bouncing shortens and tightens
muscles. It engages the stretch reflex, the body's automatic defense
device against injury, which causes the muscle to tighten rather
Don't try to stretch as far as someone else. Everyone is different
in terms of flexibility. And don't try to equal your best stretch
of yesterday. Some days you'll be relatively limber; others fairly
tight. Just relax and move into the comfortable position that feels
good that day.
When you can't run
(Exercise effectiveness of alternatives (in simulating the cardiovascular
and strengthening effects of running):
Running in swimming pool: 90-100%
Cycling on stationary bike: 60-80%
Race walking: 50-80%
Cross-country skiing, or rowing: 50-80%
Taken from Jeff Galloway's Galloway's Book on Running
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