The New Year is a great time to start running and the early phases of training are a crucial time to develop habits that will keep you injury-free. Below, our coaches have weighed in on past injuries and strategies for recovery. Almost all runners have struggled through daunting setbacks, forgetting that an early diagnosis and proper treatment can make all the difference. Please note that our experiences should not be taken as medical advice, and if you do notice irregular aches and pains, you must consult a physician immediately. At New Life Running, we wish you an injury-free 2012!
Coach Stacy Cail
Injury: Stress fracture, caused by increasing my mileage too much, too soon.
“The pain brought me to the doctor and x-rays showed a hair line fracture in my lower leg. This tiny crack in the bone took about two months to heal. It’s a reminder to be patient with training and don’t jump into doing too much, too soon. I do my best to avoid injuries by listening to my body. I take days off when I’m feeling extra tired and sore. If something hurts I ice it and stretch. It’s better to be smart and scale back when something hurts, than to push through it and be out for two months.”
Coach Alyson Barrett
Injury: Runner’s knee, caused by muscle weakness and imbalance.
“One year ago, I couldn’t run at all. I was out for the most part of October 2009 through December 2010. My knee ached at work, at home, when I was walking, and even at night. I jogged a few training runs, but every time I’d start to build mileage, a downward spiral of intense pain ensued followed by weeks or months off. Tests did not reveal any structural abnormalities, and after being bounced around between numerous physical therapists and several doctors, I was referred to a pain management specialist. I didn’t want to go the route of taking medication to mask the pain, so I sought an amazing physical therapist who works with athletes, and began a slow road to recovery. Because I do not have an ACL in my left knee, my right knee was over-compensating. Furthermore, sitting all day in an office job weakened some of the key muscles surrounding the knee. It took six months of patient muscle strengthening and the development of smarter training habits, but during 2011, I have coached myself to two personal records at the ripe old age of 32. Patience is key in the recovery process, as well as not letting the overwhelming frustration lead to mental defeat. Last, and most importantly, find a therapist whose primary goal is getting athletes back to their sport (find someone who understands your fitness-obsessed mind and will give you advice accordingly).”
For more on this topic, see “How Sitting Causes Running Injuries,” pp. 173-182 in Matt Fitzgerald’s Brain Training for Runners (New York: New American Library, 2007).
Coach Michelle La Sala
Injury: Torn Hamstring Tendon, caused by overtraining.
“In 2007 during a run, I felt something strange had happened to my upper hamstring/ischial tuberosity. The best way to describe it was a “pop”. There were a few shooting pains and then weeks of tightness and more pain while running. I stopped running for a few weeks and the pain worsened. I went on to experience a lot of pain if I tried any running, pain while I was sitting, shooting pain while sleeping, pain while walking, basically pain all of the time. I saw a myriad of doctors, physical therapists and I did not run a step for over a year and gave up all hope of running ever again. I finally stumbled into a doctor who prescribed some very aggressive cross frictional massage on the area. It was finally explained to me that the area gets very little blood flow unless you create some (hence the massage). I had massage treatment three times a week for 8 months and when I was done with that, I was told I could only swim for at least 6 months. After that time period, I began running again with no pain!
Other than doctors and physical therapists misdiagnosing what was wrong with my leg, I was very impatient with the rehabilitation process. I tried to run through extreme pain and was not listening to my body. Even now, my hamstring is doing well, but I do a lot of maintenance work on it by stretching and rolling it with a DL FIT Ball (see link below). Injury prevention techniques and patience are two very important things needed to stay healthy while training!”