Something has to change

Last summer I didn’t run at all. As a new runner, I thought that’s what I was supposed to do when I was hurt. When I resumed training, the pain was still there. Imagine my dismay when I realized I didn’t maximize all that time off just to have that nagging pain follow me from June to September.

The phrase “Oh, I’ll just stay off of it for a few days” is all too familiar having been said by me and by fellow runners.

We’ve seen this cycle before.

  • Step 1: Runner feels an oncoming injury.
  • Step 2: Runner doubts oncoming injury. Continues running.
  • Step 3: Runner is stopped in their tracks mid-run, in pain. Runner stops running.
  • Step 4: Runner takes a few days off. Runner begins running two days later. Injury is still there.
  • Step 5: Runner takes a week or two off. Runner begins running again thinking injury is gone.
  • Step 6: Runner resumes training.

I’d hate to break it, but the reality is that if a pain stopped you mid-run, the chances are after a week of no running, the injury is hiding.

In an ideal world, rest is what the injury needed. Time for inflammation to settle, perhaps?

However, I am completely guilty of the next statement I will make.

We continue to do the same thing expecting different results.

Deciding to stretch and foam roll after a workout is only part of the solution.

I am going to take a stab at it here and say that most running injuries stem from muscular imbalances or form. Our muscles work harder and gain strength faster than their relative tendons, causing that tightness we all know and experience. Or the way we hold our bodies while running distributes impact unevenly, leading to these muscular imbalances.

It takes a lot out of me to write this post – because I made the SAME mistakes training cycle after training cycle, thinking that I was clever and on to something about how to prevent injuries.

My mind is continually taking in information about this as I am half way through my personal training certification class and am bombarded on a daily basis with physical therapy exercises.

We (I) have a difficult time admitting that our bodies aren’t perfect. 

The secret – Core strength, stability/balance and resistance training

Although it is not the same as our heart pumping cardio workout, we need to start with the inside out. Greaaaat. That’s exactly what runners like to do, right?

But, no foam rolling or stretching is going to make your muscles more stable. Yes, it signals relaxation and breaks up some knots, but it does little to help balance nor keep you stable.

Ever have an injury that “shifts”? We all know of the compensations that exist when we get hurt and sooner or later we have it relocating. Our bodies are connected and aligned so that action of one muscle influences the other.

So where to start? Time permitting, I want to make another video of exercises I’ve learned in my classes and at work to do wherever you can. I’ve been incorporating more balance (verdict: balance stinks. who knew?) exercises into my training and working on my form of seemingly simple exercises (verdict: form stinks.).

Keeps eyes peeled for a future post about what I’ve added to my routine.

Until then, balance on one leg. If that’s too easy, swing the mobile leg in front and to to the side. If that’s too easy, close your eyes. If that’s too easy, stand on a BOSU.

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4 Responses to Something has to change

  1. Beth says:

    I would love for you to make a video (you know, in all your free time 🙂 ) I’m hopeful that crossfit and yoga have helped balance out my running and are making me stronger. In fact, up until my knee started hurting again, I would have sworn that strength training was keeping me from getting hurt! I wish you could make your tendons and bones adapt as quickly as your muscles.

  2. I need to pay you to help me. My pulled quad went to my knee, my foot, and now my IT. and I feel like I’m just sitting around confused as to why I am now having chest pains, side stitches and back pain during runs that I never had before. It’s like my whole body is just screaming at me. Talk about a shifting injury…

  3. Pingback: Week 11: San Francisco Half Marathon | Running on Faith

  4. Please do this!! I spent 4 months in physical therapy earlier this year working on pelvic stability & form in order to correct muscle imbalances. It’s made SUCH a huge difference, but now that those issues are taken care of and the PT is over, I’m a little at a loss regarding what I should still be doing regularly in order to prevent something similar from happening again.

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