Resting, Repairing, and Running Through Injuries?

Resting, Repairing, and Running Through Injuries?

The human body and mind are marvelous mechanisms. They can endure so much (more than you think), and there is an amazing amount and often indescribable organization behind it all.  Over the years, and through many "science experiments" with my body and mind, I feel that I am getting to know it well.  I think many runners get to a point when they realize that they need a little time off to let things repair, but there are probably just as many that are unable to stop doing the activities they love so much.  This blog post was inspired by a very interesting article written by fellow pacific northwest ultra runner and friend Justin Angle.  He talks about finding out just the right time to rest in order to maximize your potential and elude injury.  I encourage you to check out his blog and very informative article by clicking HERE.

But what if it's too late?  What if you missed that opportunity to take a rest and you have some injurious pains and discomforts that take the sheer joy out of running long distances?  Are there pains and injuries that you can continue to run through?  As ultra runners we are definitely going to come across injuries....even Dean gets injured from time to time!  It has been my experience that more often than not I am putting some "fire" out, or keeping something nagging "at bay."  I am going to share a few tips that I suggest to athletes that I coach and that have helped me along the way. A combination of the procedures below have allowed me to continue training, or have helped me to recover as soon as possible.

First off...I have become best friends with ice!  I'm a big fan of ice baths after long or intense efforts but here is another one of my favorites:

1)  Ice Dipping-  Great for lower leg injuries.  If you feel any plantar fasciitus, achilles or calf issues, or tendonitis in the ankles coming on than this is a great way to "nip it in the bud."  Also good for sprained ankles. You want to make it as cold as possible.  I have a small trash can that I fill w/ ice water (see video below).  Basically the dipping of your leg into the frigid cold water is analogous to wringing out a sponge.  You only need to dip it for like 20 seconds.  I know you could keep it in longer but it's not necessary in this situation.  The cold water pushes out wastes from the injured area then when you take your leg out fresh blood rushes back into the area which expedites the healing process.  Try to do it as many times as you can....the more you do it the faster you will heal. You can bring something like this to work (grab a couple bags of ice on the way) and try to do it every 20 minutes or so.

2)  Ice pack/ heat pad-  You can pick one of these guys up at most pharmacies.  Again the cold to hot promotes blood flow that will speed up the recovery process.  The velcro strap pack is nice because you can strap it on and do other things while your hands are free.  If you buy two of the gel packs (think squishy blue) you can use one in the microwave for hot and one in the freezer for cold.

3)  Frozen paper cup-  This one (along w/ the aforementioned ice pack/heat pad) are pretty common yet very effective.  All you do for this one is fill up a paper cup w/ water and stick it in your freezer.  After it's frozen just take it out and peel off the top part until you have ice showing.  Massage the affected area with the little exposed block of ice.  It works much better than a bag of ice or frozen peas.  Last time my mom visited she asked why I had a bunch of frozen cups in my freezer!

4)  Epsom salt baths-  I love these...In fact almost every Monday I take completely off from running and enjoy a hot bath w/ these restorative minerals.  Good for mind and body!

5)  Turmeric-  Instead of popping Ibuprofen or the like I like to cook with this Indian spice widely known for it's anti-inflammatory properties.  When there are additional "flare-ups" I use it even more.  One of my favorites is heating up some vegetable broth and adding a bunch of the bright yellow spice.  Maybe it's somewhat of a placebo but hey it works!

Again one of the main things that helps heal tendons and ligaments (which don't get much blood flow) are promoting that flow to the area. It takes just as much discipline and consistency as you put forth in your training.  So as the training log books are starting to fill up make sure you stay on top of things, get good sleep, and clear em' up as they come and you'll get to recognize what certain things are and how to deal with them.  I hope this helps a little and feel free to contact me at any time to let me know how things worked, or if you have any additional questions.

The last couple of weeks I hit over 80 miles each week and towards the end noticed a few blips on the radar.  Thankfully I backed off a little and incorporated some of the above practices but was able to run through them.  Sometimes running also brings blood flow to certain areas and in this case I was able to escape unscathed.  As of right now I'm feeling good about hitting the trails again tomorrow!  See you out there :-)

Disclaimer:   I'm not a doctor by any means so if you have anything serious you may want to contact your doc or do some of your own research. I have obsessed on the internet for hours at times in order to get me back running as soon as possible.  Good luck!


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