Running is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get your cardio fix. Unfortunately, pounding the pavement isn’t exactly the friendliest form of fitness for your joints and bones.
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Running injuries are common, but luckily, there are several proven ways to treat them so you can bounce back from an injury and hit the ground running once again.
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.
An obvious one that often goes ignores, rest is usually the best method of self-treatment and prevents an injury from becoming worse. 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 avid runners, 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 swimming or cycling.
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 can sometimes go 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 or prevents normal circulation.
Elevate the trouble area 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. Elevation helps to reduce the amount of blood flow to the injured area, decreasing pain, swelling, and inflammation.
The list of contributing factors to an injury are endless. Aside from treating the symptoms of an injury, it’s helpful to identify the cause of the injury and be proactive for next time. 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
- Gently massaging the affected area
When To Seek Professional Treatment
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 a recurring injury or an injury that fails to heal correctly or adequately. Find the cause and learn how to treat it. In the wise words of Dr. George Sheehan, “Treat the reason, not the result.”