Coping With An Injury

It’s funny…I was going through my draft posts to see what I had (there are so many posts I’ve started and never finished!) and came across this one. I started writing it months ago…months ago when I was feeling SO GOOD about my body and the idea of injuries weren’t something I was even thinking about. I was in a good place to write the post because I wasn’t dealing with an injury, I had clarity and no emotional response to what I was writing. It’s ironic that I stumbled onto this with my current situation. I wanted to share it anyway, because I think it addresses a lot of things.

Injuries are a part of life and they really suck when you’re an athlete. As athletes we put more pressure on ourselves and are less inclined to give our bodies a chance to rest when we hurt. We’re stubborn creatures and we’re positive that we can “work through it.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

This post is about how to cope with injuries that set us back. Any injury can set you back but for this post I’ll be specifically referring to the running injuries I’ve had and how I learned to cope. You can also read this excellent guest post: 8 Mistakes I Made While Injured.

I’ve had to start over several times, and I wrote a post specifically about the times I’ve started over in my journey toward health. In terms of injuries, I’ve had the not-so-serious like pulled muscles that had me hobbling for a week and I’ve also had more serious ones that set me back a long time.

I’m working hard to rehab from the IT Band issues I’ve had and I’m slowly getting my running legs back. For two years now I’ve been working on strengthening my body’s weak areas to prevent further injuries as I start to run again.

 

How to Cope With An Injury

1. Go To Your Doctor.

I see this mistake made all the time. I see it on Twitter, Facebook, blogs…runners especially are horrible at taking it easy and going to the doctor at the first signs of injury. I read these runners talking themselves out of being injured, or running through it (and hurting more).  I also see people using Google and Twitter to self-diagnose and self-treat. Really? Just go to the doctor!!! Then you’ll know for sure and have a good chance at healing.

Trust me, as an injured runner I made the mistake too, but that doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistakes. Delaying the inevitable and living in denial will just prolong the injury and the break from the activity.

If you’re really in tune with your body, you can tell immediately between a “normal” running pain and an “I’m injured” running pain.

2. R.I.C.E.

RICE isn’t just for sprains and strains. It’s just plain common sense. An injury is the body’s way of saying we pushed it too far, too soon, too hard. It wants to rest.

Rest: This means avoiding activities that cause your body pain.

Ice: Ice is your friend. You should be icing the injured area  20 minutes every few hours for those first few days to help with any inflammation or swelling.

Compression: ACE bandages are good for relieving some pain and discomfort from a swelling injury, and it also adds some stability if the injury is in your lower body. Another good one is compression socks. I LOVE these things. I have a pair of medical compression socks from when I had surgery on my ankle (it was used to prevent blood clots after my surgery) and the socks are amazing, They feel so good.

Elevation: The general rule in elevating is to raise the body part higher than your heart. If it’s your leg, sleep with a pillow under your leg to elevate it.

3. Cross Train.

If you can do another activity while you’re healing, do it. Not only will it make you feel better to still be getting some physical activity in, but you’ll keep your body strong. If your running injury is in your legs, try swimming or cycling. But only if it doesn’t hurt!

When I had to take 6 weeks off after my IT Band injury I started weight lifting. That was nearly two years ago now and it was one of the best things I ever did for myself. I wish I had done it sooner!

4. Take Care of Your Brain.

Depression is common with injuries. When our bodies are hurting, our spirits sink and despair is a normal feeling. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel hopeless–like we’ll never be “normal” again. Depending on the length of the rehab, the sadness can wear us down. The trick is to not let that happen. It’s okay to wallow for a little bit, but give it a time frame. Give it a week to wallow and feel sorrow for yourself, and then move on.

When I had to take a break from running I was a bit bitter. I stopped reading most of the running blogs I followed and loved because every time I read their race recaps I wanted to cry. I went from bitter to sad to angry that “everyone else” could run without injury and I was hobbling around with a bum knee. It sucked.  I skipped posts about half marathon trainings, I avoided the conversations about running with everyone. I knew friends and family were concerned but I just couldn’t talk about it so I changed the subject away from running.

Stay positive the best that you can.

 

5. Try Alternative Therapies.

There are a lot of alternative therapies out there that you can try in lieu of, or in addition to, traditional physical therapy. Acupuncture works for a lot of people. I’ve had mixed results from it. I had a few negative experiences with acupuncture, and then some really great experiences that worked. Give it a try.

TENS devices can also help. It’s weird at first, but feels fantastic!

Massage therapy is amazing and if you can afford frequent massages and sports massages, do it! If you can’t afford it, try Groupon deals for massage places.

6. Strengthen Your Weak Spots.

If you’re injured, there’s a weakness in the body. If it’s shin splits, strengthen the shins and calf muscles. If it’s the IT Band, try strengthen the hips. If it’s Plantar Fascitiis, the calf muscles are too tight. Talk to your doctor, see a sports medicine doctor, or go to physical therapy to target and strengthen the weak areas to prevent more injury.

Your Turn

Have you had to work on this? Are you trying to avoid injuries, or working through them?

B is for Balance

B is for Balance.

Being successful in weight loss and maintenance means being balanced in all ways.

Sometimes I feel like I’m walking a tightrope in terms of maintenance. While going Scale-free this past summer taught me that what I was doing worked, I still sometimes feel like if I slip up I will start to gain the weight back. It feels like I’m balancing on a tightrope; if I make one small misstep (like skipping workouts or eating bad foods) it will be a big fall.

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” – Fran Lebowitz

What I’ve learned about balance falls into my 90/10 Rule for maintenance. To me it means that making the right choices 90% of the time makes it possible for me to enjoy splurges 10% of the time. That can be broken down in anyway I want. I could work hard making good food choices and then splurge on a fancy meal at a nice restaurant, or it means I can have a treat a few times a week (chocolate is a good choice).

This does not mean going nuts orpunishing myself for eating “bad” food.

Balance also means living an active life that is balanced. This means REST DAYS. Working out every single day for hours is not healthy for anyone. The body needs rest days to heal, repair, recover from the activities we do. I take 2 rest days a week. Once in awhile I’ll skip one rest day but it’s not very often.

Balance in fitness also means doing a variety of activities. When I first got the Running Bug I wanted to run all the time. The more I ran, the more I loved the runner’s high. I chased it, I craved it. I ran for fitness, I ran to challenge myself, I ran to train for races. I neglected most other activities except for swimming. I hated weight lifting, I grew impatient with yoga. I swam and I ran. It took a running injury to remind me that being an athletic, fit person means living a life in balance. That means not overusing my body with one activity. That means doing a variety of activities. That means lifting weights to balance out my body.

Speaking of weight lifting…when I first started I didn’t really have a plan or goal in mind. I just needed an activity to keep me active while I couldn’t run. I started to see changes in my body immediately and grew to love it. During one weight lifting session with my dad over the holidays he gave me a valuable piece of advice: Balance whatever you lift. He explained that if I work my chest, I should work my back. If I work on my biceps, I need to do my triceps. Neglecting any part of the body can cause imbalance and that leads to INJURY.

THE Injury

Imbalance is easy for me to spot in myself…

Imbalance in my fitness activities usually lead to injuries, soreness, pain I can’t explain. Sometimes all it takes is a few extra Rest Days or I hit a yoga class.

Imbalance in my eating is obvious too. My pants feel tighter. My skin breaks out. I feel gross (a good example is when I fall back into the habit of drinking diet sodas…this makes me feel gross).

Imbalance in my mind shows me that I need to rest because I get irritable, or I dread going to the gym. That means I haven’t taken a much needed break lately, or I’ve been going-going-going with no down time. An easy fix? Movie night. Girl’s night. Sleeping in and being lazy!

How I Stay Balanced

I count my calories. I drink water. I drink wine on occasion. I eat my veggies every single day. I eat treats when I want them. I workout. I rest. I prioritize things in my life–health, relationships, family, sleep, pets. All the rest of the “crap” out there doesn’t really matter. Prioritize.

QUESTION: Are you living a balanced life? Or do you feel like some parts of it are imbalanced?

A-Abstinence * B-Balance *