Time to Heal…

Being patient with your body and allowing time to heal is difficult, but absolutely necessary if your goal is to run for a long time. I struggle with taking time off just to rest and recover; an injury is just as difficult for me. Usually, I continue running on it-telling myself I can run through it. And many times running through minor injuries is fine. It’s the not so minor ones that you can’t run through. Even some minor ones, get worse if you try to run through them. Knowing the difference, is the difference between an experienced and novice runner.

Injury and time off is unfortunately part of the running experience. Alternatives to running are just not the same. You don’t get that runners high. You don’t get that peace and sense of freedom. The longer it takes to heal the more agitated you become. It’s easy to fall into a pessimistic and defeatist attitude. You become an expert at positive self talk or you fall into a depression. The longer you are in the recovery mode, the farther off running feels.

You definitely go through the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance.

Shock and denial are lumped together most of the time, “It’s not that bad,” “I can’t believe this has happened.” “It’s nothing to worry about,” “I can still run, it’s fine.” “It’s the shoes, I’ll just get a new pair.”

Anger is directed at pretty much everyone including other runners and yourself. You beat yourself up about not taking time off right when it happened. You decide you could have prevented it and were just stupid.

Bargaining-” Dear God, I’ll take time off right away next time, if I can just have my running back now.” “I’ll volunteer more and donate money, if I can just get back out there.” “I’ll do anything to get back out there!!” Anything, but take the time to heal that is. You  begin doing research about the fastest way to heal. You spend hours looking at new training programs, super foods, stretches, miracle vitamins, and strength training.

Depression comes in the form of the defeatist. “I’ll never run again.” “this is going to take years to heal.” “It will always hurt to run.” “I can’t be happy without my running.” “I can’t live without my running (you think this is going to far until you’ve been there).”

Testing-“I’ve taken a few days off, I can go back.” “I know it still hurts a little, but a little run won’t hurt it.” “Just an easy three miles.”

Acceptance- “this sucks, but my goal is to run until I die, so I guess I’ll spend six months doing physical therapy and then I’ll take the time to get back to running in the right way because if I don’t, I’ll be back where I was when this started.”

When you’re ready to start your epic return to running make sure it’s slow. Review my return from injury training program found above under the 5k and 10k training program link.

It’s a shame that we can’t start with acceptance. Maybe that should be our goal for our next injury because if we’re honest with ourselves, the next injury will come.

Plantar Faciitis

plantar faciitis

Does anyone know a quick fix for plantar faciitis? No? I knew you all would say that. There is never a quick fix for any running injury. Usually, you have taken months working on your injury, so why would it be fixable within a few days or a week?

Plantar faciitis is a runner’s worst nightmare. It is difficult to heal and can take a long time.

What is plantar faciitis? It is when you strain or tear your plantar facia, which is a thick band of tissue along the bottom of your foot. It acts like a shock absorbing bowstring. When you injury it, the plantar facia either gets inflamed or it thickens and doesn’t work the same. The pain is most commonly in the heel of your foot snuggled right in against your arch and toward the inside of the foot. Sometimes it is felt in the arch too.

How many runners get it? about ten percent of runners get plantar faciitis at some point during their running careers.

Risk factors? There are several things that make a person more susceptible to plantar faciitis including, long distance running, ballet, standing for long periods of time, obesity, high arches, and flat feet.

How do you get it? there are a few different ways you can end up with plantar faciitis. First, you can get it by wearing shoes that are old and worn out or don’t support your arch enough. Second, you can get it from over training and increasing your miles by more than ten percent a week. Third, you can get it just because the running gods say you get it. In other words, the doctors can’t always figure out what caused it.

What do you do about it? As always with an injury you are going to want to reduce your miles or even stop running. The next step is to get the swelling/inflammation down by using ice, elevation, and compression. You can also use anti-inflammatory medication if you choose. You also need to stretch the bottom of your foot by pulling your great toe back toward your shins along with stretching your calf and Achilles tendon. The reason you want to stretch the calf and Achilles is they are all connected and a tight calf or Achilles will contribute to the problem and prevent it from getting better. So show your foam roller some love. Freezing a water bottle and rolling your foot on it seems to help many runners. Rolling your foot over a golf ball, lacrosse ball, or an extra special ball you get at the running store also helps break up some of the scar tissue. You can also tape your foot using KT tape or Rock Tape which will support the Plantar Facia.

How do you prevent it? Make sure you are replacing your shoes when they are worn out. Stretch your claves, Achilles, and feet regularly. Don’t increase your miles by more than ten percent a week. Strengthen your feet, ankles, and calves. Finally, pray to the running gods.

Some articles out there that say plantar faciitis will heal on its own, and that there is no research that supports any of the treatments people use. Some runners choose to run through the pain, which causes it to take even longer to heal.

My thoughts on this are, you’re never going to go wrong with resting, icing, elevating, and compressing a soft tissue injury. Be an active participant in your recovery.