You should count yourself lucky if you’re among the fortunate few who have managed to escape injury so far in your running exploits. It happens to the best of us, whether it’s a sprained ankle or something more serious, and there’s nothing more frustrating than being forced off your feet and seeing your hard-earned fitness slowly disappear. But rest assured, all is not lost. There is plenty you can be doing to rehabilitate and get back out there doing what you love most. We’ve got a few words of advice having been there, done that. Be sure to let us know your tips for getting back in action.
Don’t be a hero
Pain is usually there for a reason, it’s your body telling you there’s something wrong and you should listen to it. While pushing through the pain barrier might seem like a good idea, running it off very rarely ends well and carrying on could be doing even more damage. The best thing to do is to stop immediately and seek professional advice. Call into your physio as soon as you can to get it checked out.
No, we don’t mean what you eat with your curry, it’s the four rules of acute injury – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. As soon as you hurt yourself, follow these steps before seeking a diagnosis from a physio or doctor. The ice will help to reduce swelling and relieve pain in the 24 hours afterwards. Compression will support the injured limb and also help to contain the swelling and the elevation will keep the blood from pooling – especially if it’s in your lower limbs. It’s important to note that these rules apply for 24 – 48 hours. After that ice won’t go much further than superficial treatment.
Stick to your rehab
Your physio may give you a rehabilitation programme or specific exercises to help repair and strengthen the damaged muscle, ligament or tendon. These can be mind-numbing, albeit really important if you want to get back up and running quickly. Make sure you follow these religiously and be open and honest with your physio if you experience pain and set-backs along the way. If you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself!
Mix it up
Yes, we know you love running, but why not take your injury as an opportunity for a change of scenery. Cycling and swimming are fantastic low impact sports that can help you to maintain fitness and muscle mass without putting strain on your sore bits. If you’re a member of a gym, you can get a decent sweat up on the stationary cycles or watt bikes, or why not give a spin class a go. And you don’t have to limit yourself to laps of the pool, there are plenty of fun pool classes and exercises you can do instead of battling your way through other swimmers in the slow lane.
Take it easy
We all feel a bit guilty when we haven’t turned the legs over in a while, but being injured is your free pass to chill out. Give your body a chance to heal, get your eight hours’ sleep a night (this is prime repair time!) and make sure to ease yourself back into it when you’re ready. It’s common to re-injure and do even further, potentially irreversible damage, if you try to rush back before you’re 100%. Your physio will give you the green light, but until then hold your horses.