How I listen to my body to prevent injuries

IMG_9745Happy Monday, party people! I have a quick update on my hip pain situation I wrote about in my week 7 marathon training update. The long and the short of it is that I am feeling almost 100% better and was able to complete my scheduled long run this weekend. Keeping in mind that I am NOT a medical professional but have had my fair share of minor injuries, I wanted to share the strategies I use to help keep my training on track.

  1. Understand that minor aches and pains are an inevitable part of marathon training. I can’t stress this one enough–marathon training is a lot on any body and little tweaks and pains are part of the process. Try to stay in tune with what’s going on, and if anything lasts more than a day or two, gets worse instead of better, or is a sharp pain (versus a dull/achey pain) then take the steps you need to in order to take care of it. Running through something painful will make it worse, not better.
  2. Do the easy things first. When something falls into the category of “beyond the daily aches and pains,” use your resources before immediately jumping to seeing a professional. More often than not, they’ll tell you to do the following, so if you’re feeling like it’s not serious it can help to try these things yourself instead of wasting time and money getting the same advice from a doctor:IMG_7095
    • Take time off. More on this below.
    • Ice! I keep a reusable icepack in the freezer and will bring it to work and ice on and off all day if I’m treating an injury.
    • Take an antinflamatory–if you have concerns about this one, obviously check with a doc first, but last summer my doctor told me to take ibuprofen every 6 hours to bring down inflamation and it really helped both then and this hip business.
    • Foam roll! I foam roll almost every day, but when I’m working with an injury I try to roll every morning and evening (as long as it isn’t too painful). Foam rolling is a really great preventative care technique. I have one of these for my quads/glutes/IT bands and one of these, which I use mostly for my calves.
    • Stretch! I find both yoga and stretching to be really helpful for both treatment and prevention.
  3. Rest, rest, REST. It can be really, really hard to take time off from running, but taking extra rest days is absolutely essential to keeping your training on track. I took Thursday and Friday off last week and was able to complete my 17 mile long run pain-free on Saturday morning.IMG_9747
  4. Use online resources (with great caution). The internet can be a scary place if you’re injured–there’s lots of gloom and doom out there about “runner’s knee” and other vauge/unhelpful diagnoses for aches and pains. While I am super duper cautious about taking advice from Dr. Google, I was able to look up some helpful diagrams to zero in on which hip muscle was bothering me and find a stretch to target it directly. So use your resources with a heavy dose of cynicism, and always ask a professional if you’re at all unsure.
  5. Prevent it from happening again. It’s easy to get lazy after an injury feels better, but it’s even easier to re-injure something that you’re not taking care of. This is why, for example, I foam roll every day and do yoga twice a week even when I’m injury-free. Better to take the time now and not have to disrupt my training later on!

How do you listen to your body and prevent running injuries?

Linking up with PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the run!