We all have them, they are almost a certainty if you are active, aches, pains, niggles and injuries. I am currently battling with a minor calf tear, it’s not stopping me, but is a major inconvenience and uncomfortable. I have a fairly consistent (can always be improved) routine of ice, compression & anti-inflammatory gel & tablets that are helping me through at the moment. The frustration is I don’t want to stop, I have goals, targets & desires to improve! The reality is I need to stop take a small break, seek treatment, step back, let me body heal, recovery and reassess why this injury has (re-)occurred this time. Is there something in my technique causing this, is it an overuse, did I increase too quickly, am I missing something from my program?
So lets take a moment to reflect, training regularly is hard! I recently complete a 5kaday 30 day challenge, pretty obviously I had to run 5km every day for 30 days straight. Easy for some, challenging for others! While 5km is easily achievable for me, the consistency played havoc with me. Running is my Achilles heal (this is my favourite pun) and the consistency didn’t allow my legs sufficient time to recover completely every day. Through a routine of ice, compression, elevation, stretching and massage I completed the challenge even with the calf complaint! So the most common acronym I have used throughout my life for recovery and injury treatment is:
RICE, (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Apparently more recently they have updated it to include a R on the end:
RICER, (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral)
So my advice is to invest in a couple of really good ice packs (1 is never enough) and even some different size ice packs and keep them in your freezer ready for use at an instant. I remember back when I played football (and mixed indoor netball) regularly purchasing a bag of ice & a plastic bucket and using that to immerse my whole foot after rolling my ankle as my initial treatment, taking ice therapy to a whole new serious level. I also use compression bandages (like calf sleeves or ankle braces) immediately post injury to assist in keeping swelling down. I even sleep in my calf sleeves if they are sore from a training session. The last thing I do is elevate it as much as possible, on top of a pillow in bed, on a small box under my desk at work, using absolutely anything to try to get the sore / injured body part away from being the lowest part of my body (obviously this is easier for arm or shoulder injuries).
So that’s my initial approach when I sustain an injury. What do I do to prevent injuring and deal with the niggles, aches and pains? Much the same really, I use ice regularly after a training session (in winter our pool is a great substitute for ice), I re-fuel and rehydrate as quickly as possible. I also use a foam roller & stretching band as often as possible (again I can always do more of this). How to best use a foam roller might be a topic for another blog (stay tuned)!
I have also built a team of wonderful and trusted (super experienced) people who I can call on and make appointments to assist in addressing any specific concern, no matter how small it may turn out to be. I continually review my technique and seek feedback from others about my technique. Here is a fee links to my team of supporters, therapist & healers:
At times it is a matter of calling on a few different treatments and consulting across the disciplines to finally resolve the issue’s I encounter! One thing I try not to do is get stuck in a rut with 1 particular treatment, if it’s not improving try something else, ask more questions, seek a different treatment. Ultimately all these people can only treat what I tell them and what they can see during the limited time I spend with them! The more information I can give them, the better my treatment and the sooner I’m back training or racing!
Ok so that the physical side of injury dealt with, but perhaps the hardest part of injury is the mental battle, dealing with the inability to do what I so desperately want to do. I know when I see my physio next, she will ask me to stop running for a week or two (or maybe longer). So what is my strategy, how do I deal with this? Meditation, visualisation and relaxation techniques (something as simple as focus on breathing) are my go to methods. Again here is another topic for a future blog (keep watching)!
So whats my plan now? Well we are right in the middle of winter, deep deep (as cold as it gets here in Brisbane, Queensland) winter! I’m not enjoying the cold weather riding, I struggle to get to the pool (mainly because getting from the water to the change rooms is freezing, outdoor pools are so much fun)! So my approach for the rest of July, I’m going to increase my time on the trainer, my apparatus for self harm and torture! June was a solid month of running, but really I let my bike and swim slip! I am going to let the swim slip for a bit longer and focus on the bike & trainer. My calf is improving daily, so I’ll re-introduce more running and I have introduced a general strengthening program including plyometrics. So July will be a consolidation month, focusing on becoming injury free and getting ready to attack some solid intensity training heading toward Noosa triathlon in November and the Sunshine Coast Marathon in late August!
Keep watching to see my progress toward my next race.
Remember if in doubt seek professional assistance! I would love to hear your methods of dealing with injury and downtime? Feel free to comment below!
Till next time build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!