Running is an awesome way get and stay in shape. Because of running’s weight-bearing nature, the energy you expend is often much greater than if you were doing non-weight bearing exercises for the same amount of time. But unfortunately, running isn’t one of the friendliest forms of fitness for your joints and bones.
Running injuries are quite common, but luckily, there are multiple ways they can be treated. Here are various treatments that can help almost everyone bounce back from an injury and hit the ground running.
There’s a general method of treatment, which can be applied to most, if not, all injuries to initiate the recovery process: RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.
Rest is usually the best method of self-treatment. It prevents an injury from being provoked and worsened. Listen to your body and rest until the pain and symptoms have gone away. You can take anti-inflammatory drugs to assist with the pain but never take these kinds of drugs to mask pain and run through the injury.
For some people, the thought of having to stop running, even temporarily, is upsetting. If you must stay active, substitute running with a non-weight bearing exercise such as biking and or swimming.
Treat the localized injury by icing the affected area for 20 minutes every four to six hours. You can get creative with what you use to ice the injury; anything frozen will work (like a bag of frozen peas). It’s best to ice immediately after the onset of pain or after the injury occurs. Remember: Don’t apply heat to the trouble spot if it’s inflamed; swelling is best treated by ice, not heat.
Swelling is a typical indicator that an injury has occurred. In addition to icing, compressing the swollen area goes a long way. Use an ACE or stretchy, cloth bandage to wrap the affected area. Get a snug fit but be sure not to wrap the injury so tightly it increases the pain.
Elevate the trouble area, so it’s above heart level. This can easily be done by lying down and propping the area up at the appropriate height. You can kill a couple birds with one stone by icing and compressing the injury while elevating it in bed.
The list of contributing factors to an injury can go on and on. These simple and easy fixes to help you treat the potential cause(s) of your running injury:
- Changing your running shoes/making sure they’re not too old and worn
- Rolling and stretching your muscles
- Wearing arch supports or custom inserts
- Wearing a brace or a splint
- Massaging the affected area
R.I.C.E is great for the initial treatment of a running injury and for easing the pain, but often, a tailored treatment method is necessary to fully combat the injury. For example, you might need physical therapy, electro-stimulation and or cortisone injections, all which require professional care. See a health professional to diagnose the injury, find the cause and learn how to treat it. In the wise words of Dr. George Sheehan, “Treat the reason, not the result.”