Last week we talked about how injuries, as awful of a truth it is, are simply part of endurance sports. As I mentioned in the last blog, it is very important to figure out what caused your injury. Most injuries can be avoided, especially the ones caused from overuse. One of the best ways to ensure you’re not getting an injury like this is to get a coach who can help you design a proper training plan that meets your specific needs.
Even if you take as many precautionary steps as you can to not get injured, sometimes it just happens and there isn’t a whole lot you can do. When an injury occurs that requires complete down time you need to do just that…REST. Most endurance athletes are overtrained anyways so taking a week or two completely off is not going to make you lose all of your fitness. During that time, even though you may not be doing much physical activity, it would wise to create a small team of individuals that you trust to help you get back to 100%. This way, when you are ready to do something again you know your game plan.
Some injuries will require you to see a medical profession. If you’re questioning whether or not to get in to see a doctor, you should. It is worth it. They will help you figure out exactly what is wrong and they can refer you to other experts if they can’t do it themselves.
The medical profession seems to do a really good job of getting people back to normal every day health. The problem can be that they won’t be able to help you get completely back to functioning at a high level for your sport. This is another place where a qualified coach who has experience helping others come back from injury can come in handy.
I also recommend you set yourself up with some other specialists: sports physio (this one is a must), massage therapist, personal trainer and chiropractor. All of these will not be necessary, but if you have the means these professionals can likely help you get back out there sooner.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with people you trust and those who are highly qualified in their field. Find people who have worked with a lot of athletes and want to get you back to good health first, but also realizes you want to compete again in the not so distant future.
Getting back to exercise
Depending on the specific injury, there will be certain exercises that will be best for you to start with when you are cleared to begin doing something again. If it’s a running injury, cycling or some other non-weight bearing exercise is a good way to go. Aqua jogging and walking are two other ways to keep your general fitness up.
When you start back up, resist the urge to go too hard too soon. You are likely itching to smash yourself again to prove to yourself you haven’t lost every bit of fitness you had before the injury. Your injury is likely not completely healed and the risk of damaging yourself further is too great. You want to ease back into things. Using the 10% increase rule is a smart method to follow. This is saying that you should not increase consecutive sessions by more than 10% while coming back from your injury.
For the first week or two it would not be a bad idea to give yourself a day off in between sessions. This is a safe way to make sure you’re recovering from the sessions and making sure you’re not overdoing it too soon. If at any time you feel pain, STOP. It would make zero sense to continue on with a session if you feel pain in the area of your injury. There’s a big difference in being a little uncomfortable from being out of shape and then feeling a sharp pain.
Tune into your body and pay attention to the signals it gives you. RICE is your best friend. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation and is probably sports medicine’s simplest, yet best recovery method. You cannot do enough of these things.
Once you can, it is important to get back to doing some form of exercise. If you just rest (besides the first 2-3 weeks or if it’s the only option due to something more serious) and do nothing this is going to prolong the comeback process. At the same time DO NOT rush back into things too quickly. Soon enough you will be firing again on all cylinders and forget all about your injury. The risk is far greater if you don’t approach the whole process in a smart way. If you don’t know what to do, seek out the services of someone who does. You’ll be glad you did.