By Koren, Pure Matters
I am injury prone.
In my twenties, I tried training for a marathon and ended up with IT (iliotibial) band syndrome -- scorching pain on the outside of my right knee. Also in my twenties, my ankle gave out on a Washington, D.C. cobblestone sidewalk, leaving me with chronic ankle pain ever since. I feel like I’ve had it all; shoulder pain, lower back pain, runner’s knee … and most recently, the dreaded plantar fasciitis.
I’m not sure if it is my genetics or my training protocol, but if I do something long enough or hard enough, I end up with some sort of tendonitis somewhere. It is especially annoying because I actually enjoy working out, but am limited by my injuries. When I run more than six or seven miles a few times a week, my body starts breaking down. Fundamentally, I think it has something to do with the way my hips, knees and ankles align. Or it could be my fairly flat feet, for which I have custom orthotics. Whatever it is that causes my frequent injuries, I have learned a few things in dealing with them, which I’ll share with you.
Start with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) immediately. This combination helps keep swelling down, which is critical to a quick recovery. And don’t forget the Aleve, too.
Get Help STAT
Do not wait to get an injury looked at by a professional. You may think you just twisted something, but there could be a hidden fracture or torn ligament. When I twisted my ankle, I didn’t have it examined until years later when the injury and scar tissue had caused permanent damage. I honestly believe had I had it treated right then, I wouldn’t be dealing with the chronic pain that I now struggle with.
If your doctor advises you to rest it, REST IT. Don’t think you know more than your doctor.
Look for Alternative Treatments
I use a chiropractor regularly because he looks at the entire body and alignment. He doesn’t just look at the isolated pain point. He looks for the cause of the issue. I’ve also used acupuncture, massage, and ice baths.
Stay Active if Possible
Don’t use an injury as an excuse to give up physical activity completely. With most injuries there is something you can do. Biking and swimming are usually the go-to suggestions of most professionals.
All that said, the best way to deal with injuries is to avoid them! Here are a few suggestions to help keep yourself injury-free.
Take five to 10 minutes to warm up walking on the treadmill or spinning on the elliptical. Follow that with some functional movements -- a few sun salutations, walking lunges, jumping jacks, push ups.
When you move into your actual workout, don’t go 100 percent out of the gate. Start with a few sets at 60-70 percent. For example, if sprinting, do one set of sprints at ¾ effort before going full out. Same goes for weight-lifting sets.
Try a Supplement
There are a ton of great supplements designed support athletes that actually work. Be sure to take them for four to six weeks before deciding whether they work for you -- these types of supplements need time to be effective. I also take a multi-vitamin and krill oil to help with inflammation and overall health.
Cross Train and Strength Train
To minimize muscle imbalances and overuse, be sure to try other types of exercise. Love to run? Still try to get at least a few bike or rowing sessions in each week. And don’t forget about strength training, with particular focus on core strength which will support all your other activities.
Stretch and Increase Flexibility
If possible, work in a few yoga sessions per week. I also try to stretch after I workout, when I’m warm. When dealing with an injury, it is even more important to stretch those muscles and keep them from tightening up. I follow up stretching with icing.