Running Injuries: 6 recovery tips that can’t fail
Whether you’re a runner, swimmer, or a gym fanatic at some point in your life you may experience an injury.
Lengthy layoffs can be frustrating as they can interrupt your training schedule and they can be the catalyst for you to get repeated injuries if you don’t use good recovery techniques.
For example, if you break one leg on a chair and continued sitting on it, it would only be a matter of time before the other three legs were damaged.
Your body is the same and will only compensate for a weak joint for so long.
The quicker you can get back to full fitness the better, and with proper rehabilitation you can reduce the risk of altering your body’s mechanics and picking up other injuries further down the line.
This article has two chapters:
- Running injuries – 6 recovery tricks
- 9 Running tips for bad knees
In order to help you back on the road to recovery we have looked at some ways that will help you recover quicker and we will advise you on how to use these techniques to recover from some of the most common injuries.
Illiotibial band Friction syndrome (ITB syndrome)
Illiotibial band friction syndrome is when you get a pain on the outside of the knee. It can be caused by your IT band becoming too tight, and the muscles in your hips becoming too weak.
The IT band is a muscle that connects into the bum and down into the knee down the side of the leg.
Steve Perry who is a physiotherapist (www.wimbledonphysio.co.uk) says “Changing your running shoes” can be a key to recovering from this injury, as often it is a problem with the body’s mechanics that cause the problem.
“ITB friction syndrome is caused by tightness of the IT band so a thorough stretching programme is also essential for a quick recovery”.
Patellar tendonitis is when you have pain in the knee because your knee cap is being pulled to the outside of the knee causing a clicking pain in the join.
This injury will cause pain in the knee but it will be possible to still train with this pain if you use hydrotherapy.
This is because the support from the water takes away any impact you would have on land. The temperature of the pool is 35 degrees which allows the muscle to relax and helps to reduce pain.
“Hydrotherapy also increases blood circulation, reduces swelling and increases recovery time as you are able to run, jump and improve balance in the pool” says Steve Perry.
This recovery technique is great for all types of lower body injuries and will allow you to maintain some type of fitness while being injured.
You may overuse your calf if you do allot of running which could cause a calf strain. Steve Perry suggests that you rest it, compress your calf with ice, and elevate it for 48 hours.
After 48 hours try to move the ankle so that your calf and ankle don’t become stiff, you may do this by sitting on a chair with your feet on the ground and performing a calf raise( by performing a tip toe).
“Only do this if it is pain free”. Also stretch out your calf but the stretch should not be painful, and the last stage should be to get a massage.
When you run you may experience neck pain and the way to relieve this neck pain is to first of all stretch some of the muscles around your neck.
One stretch you can do is to close your mouth and lean your head back as far as it can go.
This will stretch the front of the neck. You can also lean your head to the side and place your hand that is on the same side your head is leaning towards on the side of your head.
Once these muscles have been stretched out then you need to learn how to set your shoulders using the same principles from the shoulder impingement and learn to maintain your head in an upright position instead of leaned forward.
Lower back pain
It’s wise to take any pain in the lower back seriously as this is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.
Lower back pain can be caused by a number of different things ranging from weak glutes, sitting at a desk, playing a sport that places strain on the back and many more.
The first thing to do is to increase your core strength because the abdominals help to protect the lower back.
Pilates is one of the most effective ways to recover quickly from lower back pain because it “focuses on the muscles of the lower abdominals and lower back” says physiotherapist and lumbo-pelvic-hip specialist Sally Critien (www.physiowoking.co.uk).
“Real Pilates should only have 8-10 people in a class, and not 20-30 people”, because of the precision required in each movement. Try to look for private classes by private Pilates practitioners.
Lateral Ankle sprains
We all know that eating the right foods at the right time can help refuel and energise the body for optimum performance, but it can also help you to recover faster from a lateral ankle sprain.
“Rest, appropriate stretches and extra Vitamin C and zinc will help definitively with the tissue repair and an awareness of the cause of the injury is critical” says Doctor David Thomas DC (www.eletewater.co.uk).
“However, as always, optimum hydration and correct electrolyte balance is also critical not only to optimum performance but also to optimum recovery”.
9 Running Tips for Managing Bad Knee
Feeling sore or stiff in the legs after running is not always a sign of injury, it could be that your body is just adapting to the new physical stress.
If you have developed knee pain recently or you are recovering from a recent injury I will talk about what to do later on in this article.
I will address the two most common knee injuries which are Illiotibial band syndrome and runners knee.
I will also address how to deal with muscle soreness around the knee.
Running tips for managing muscle soreness
If you are experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) you may find that the pain comes and goes within a few days.
Anyone can suffer from DOMS after a running session, although it is not entirely a running side effect.
Several factors, such as increased running intensity can cause DOMS.
Taking the right precautions to prevent or minimise DOMS effect should be your first goal.
There are several ways you can go about this, like having a caffeine-filled beverage before exercising, proper warm up, increasing your workout intensity bit by bit or taking fruits like cherries.
If you still end up with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after taking precautions, there are other methods to address the symptoms.
1. Apply ice
- Apply an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a piece of cloth – to prevent tissue damage – on the area you are feeling pains.
- Do not apply the ice on the area longer than 20 minutes at a time up to six times within 48 hours
- doing this will help in reducing the pain and swelling by numbing the affected area.
2. Apply heat
- You can treat DOMS effects with heat, common methods used in treatment include:
- heat packs
- warm baths
- Applying heat helps to increase the flow of blood to the body; thus, relieving the symptoms of DOMS.
3. Ease into your running routine
- It is advisable you go for an easy run if you still feel sore, doing this has its benefits
- it improves the flow of blood to your recovering muscles and reduces the effects of DOMS.
4. Gently stretch
- Stretching your muscles gently for about 30 seconds promotes quick recovery as it aligns the collagen fibres during healing
- Stretching your leg muscles and joints, such as your knees, hamstrings, and calves before running is crucial.
5. Elevate your legs
- If the pain is severe, raise your legs above your heart
- Doing this will decrease blood flow.
- Decreasing blood flow reduces the swelling as well as the pain and stiffness.
- To facilitate muscle recovery, it is important you give your body rest for a day or two
- The pain will reduce during recovery, and you can resume training afterward
- You can reduce the effect of DOMS by 30% when you massage the area you are feeling sore or stiff
- Massage helps in improving blood circulation; thus reducing the swell in your muscles
- Foam rolling is another way to massage your body and alleviate the effects of DOMS if you find it difficult to massage the affected area by yourself
8. Use acupuncture therapy
- Although not everyone is interested in acupuncture, lots of research have shown that this therapy can minimise the effects of DOMS when applied on sore muscles.
- Exercise repetition is a good way to reduce the effect of DOMS or muscle soreness
- Although you may suffer from DOMS at first, it will eventually reduce when you continue to exercise as your muscles gradually adapt to your workout.
Running tips for bad knees
You can still run if you still have stiff and sore legs but no sign of injury.
To prevent injury, it’s advisable you do a lot of warm up and ease into your run gradually.
However, if there is no improvement after applying any of these methods, then it’s possible you are suffering from a more serious running injury.
The 2 most common running injuries
Runner’s knee and iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) are the two most common type of running injuries.
Although pain is a symptom of both injuries, the areas of the leg where the pain affects differ.
Before reading on I must mention that I am not a physiotherapist and if these symptoms apply to you, then you must see a physio.
You must consult with a doctor if you have got knee pain. Below are some tips that I have researched that may help you identify your symptoms.
Runner’s knee is usually caused by an overload on the knee or tissues around the knee, characterized by pains in the kneecap or around the knee cap.
Runner’s knee occurs when you don’t warm up before exercising or if you do your workout the wrong way.
Treating this condition will vary depending on the cause of the injury.
- Decrease running at an early stage to reduce stress in the knee and facilitate healing. It’s advisable you avoid running downhill since it stresses the patellofemoral complex.
- Avoid exercise that has to do with bending the knee. Bending the knee will only increase the forces under the knee cap.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Pain(s) outside the knee is a major symptom of ITBS, which occurs when the iliotibial band is inflamed.
ITBS is usually caused by anatomical problems or increased exercise intensity.
Implementing a strength training program is the common method of treatment, it helps prevent overworking the muscles in the future.
- Use an IT band knee wrap.
- Massage the area – Target the trigger points with a foam roller to work out the tightness of the IT band and pain you are feeling. A deep tissue massage along the whole IT band will facilitate tissue mobilization; thus, promoting quick recovery.
- Increase strength – Lack of strength is responsible for most of the issues with IT band. You can facilitate recovery and reduce any possibility of injury in the future when you spend time in strength training your glutes and hips. Some strengthen exercise include lateral leg raise, lying hip abduction, and clamshell.
- Stretches – There are different types of stretches you can perform when treating iliotibial band syndrome. Stretching will help reduce pain and foster complete recovery. Check details, and examples of each IT band stretches and exercises below.