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home » injuries suck

If you're an endurance athlete chances are you have experience with injuries. If not, I'm jealous.

Injuries can originate from trauma or mechanical issues. Trauma is essentially some sort of accident; a fall, misstep, bruise, strain, overload, whatever. A mechanical problem develops over time, like flat feet and shin splints, tight muscles and tears, etc.. Mechanical issues can often be resolved with orthotics or similar.

Only the body can heal itself. Meds like anti-inflammatories and modalities a PT might use like ultrasound are there to facilitate the process, but I repeat; only the body can heal itself. Patience is required to be an endurance athlete, especially for running.

To go through a workout week with not a single niggle is unrealistic. An athlete I coach tells me about his twinges most days. Twinges are part of the deal to be an endurance athlete. Problems and injuries from your youth can—and likely will—come back to bother you as you age. Understanding your unique body issues and having an advisor (physical therapist) to assess them correctly, making remedial recommendations is invaluable.

Experienced athletes deal with recurring injuries. The trick is to know what is just annoying, and what requires you to stop as not to make it worse. Training through discomfort is part of the fitness building process, but training through injuries that don't resolve on their own over time is unwise. Many minor problems do not need to interrupt training at all, but some athletes will not back off with that minor strain, making it much worse to the point where they HAVE to stop.

Some athletes hold on to their injuries like old friends. The psychological connections are complicated and real. One athlete I coached acquired an injury every time there was a new problem with her relationship or at work. Another held on to injury to explain lack of satisfying race results. Another craved the attention and sympathy. All true, and usually denied.

The body follows the mind: if you believe it will heal it probably will; if you don't believe it will heal it probably won't. The human body has an incredible ability to heal itself. If I listed all of the ongoing mechanical problems I cope with, and injuries I've had, you'd feel really bad for me (or think I'm nuts for continuing to train and compete)! =)

Most problems can be fixed. Supplemental work like stretching, core, and PT recommended movements might be required. It takes time, work beyond your aerobic training time, and patience. Prevention and abatement are key. Many injuries can be avoided with consistent work.

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