It happens to even the most experienced of runners- you’re training for race day and the next thing you know, you take a wrong step and you have your first running injury. If you are following a strict training schedule, your first response may be to panic. Don’t! We are here to encourage you, and help you get back at it as quickly as possible! Here is our best advice when dealing with injury:
Your first thought is that taking time off from training is the worst possible action. However, overextending yourself when you are already dealing with a running injury is NOT what you want to do! Not only do you risk not allowing your body to heal by continuing on, but you risk further aggravating the problem.
One of the most common sports injuries are sprained ankles. In the event of a sprained ankle, many physicians recommend following the acronym RICE:
Rest (avoid putting weight on the ankle, use crutches if necessary)
Ice (controls swelling)
Compression (reduces swelling and immobilizes the injury)
Elevation (prop the ankle above the waist)
If these steps help, you likely do not need medical attention.
Take it slow and steady
Slowly but steadily increase your physical activity after injury. You may begin by just walking for a few minutes on even terrain or a treadmill. Low impact exercises such as swimming, biking or walking are also great to get started. Gentle forms of yoga each day can release tension in the muscles and increase range of motion in the joints.
Listen to your body
This is possibly the most important advice we can give. Do not ignore excruciating pain, but know that mild discomfort throughout rehabilitation is normal. If you find that you’re in extreme pain for hours after exercising, your body is asking for more rest. Give yourself a few days to recover, scale back, and try again.
Vary your exercises
Cross-training helps provide balance in the body as you recover. Completing various exercises while not overworking the part of the body that’s injured can increase fitness levels. A change in focus strengthens other areas of the body and also allows injuries to heal.
Give yourself time. There is only one you, and you owe it to yourself to take care of your body. Always seek medical care for extreme pain, signs of broken bones or injuries that are not improving after following these tips.
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