It’s Just a LIttle Ache or Pain…?
Over the past few weeks, I have received numerous emails, asking me about proper care and treatment for small and large injuries.
Many have written, saying they have a pulled muscle and wonder how many days they need to take off before returning to their program. Others have written, saying they have greater injuries and want to know how to ‘get through’ the half marathon.
First and foremost (you know I am going to say this)- if any injury persists for more than a couple of days, you really need to have a doctor take a look at it. So often, as individuals who are training for something, we have a very strong ability to mask pain, or even hide it when producing endorphins. We feel something doesn’t seem quite right, but it isn’t horrible, so we just continue on as-is…
Any time your body doesn’t feel right – whether it is an ache, pain, soreness, swelling, headache – anything – it is your body’s way of communicating with you that you need to slow down and take care of it.
If you do not slow down and take care of it – what was a small, very recoverable injury can become a much larger, possibly non-recoverable injury.
One person wrote me that she had a pulled quad muscle and took a few days off and thought it felt better so she wanted to know if it was ok to get her long run in.
While every body is different – I can assure you that the day your body feels better is not the day that it is healed. If you have a pulled muscle or other acute injury, you need to take some downtime, heal it with massage, good nutrition (Protein, fruits, vegetables), water, stretching, foam roller, sleep and low stress. (or whatever the best way to treat your injury is). Once it starts feeling better, I’d advise to still give it at least a few days. Perhaps take a few slow, small runs but remember that just because it feels better doesn’t mean it is.
Consider when a boat gets a crack in it and someone fills that crack with sealant. Despite the fact that in a few hours it appears dry, they advise to wait several days for the sealant to set. You wouldn’t dare take your boat out that day, even if the sealant looks dry on the outside, would you? It’s the same concept here. It takes longer to heal on the inner most part of the muscle and cellular level – so be gentle, be kind and take care of your body, so it can take care of you.
Every injury needs to be treated differently, and each person may have a different approach and timeline to healing, but remember that when something doesn’t feel right – it is your body telling you to slow down and take care of it. I’d rather see you cross the finish line with a slightly slower time than you hoped, than not cross the finish line at all – so take care of your body and listen to it!