Avoiding the I Word

 

3 questions to ask yourself to help prevent overuse injuries

The I word.  Most endurance athletes have experienced it at some point. We don’t like to say it, think about it, or experience it.  You may have guessed it, yep, we are talking about injuries. 

Overuse injuries are highly prevalent in endurance runners.  Twenty-five percent of runners may be injured at any given time, and approximately 50% of runners experience an injury that requires that they stop training for a period of time in any given year (Fields, Sykes, Walker, & Jackson, 2010).  Whenever you experience pain, there are a few key questions you need ask yourself:

  1. Is this a new or recurring pain? Where is the pain located?

If it is a recurring pain, think about actions that made it feel better in the past.  Do you need to return to a set of rehab exercises?  Or perhaps, re-dedicate yourself to a specific mobility routine?  A good training log will help jog your memory about what you did in the past.  If it is a new pain, try to locate the anatomical marker where the pain is present.  Also try to determine if it is tendon, ligament, bone, or muscle pain.

 

  1. How bad is the pain on a scale of 1 – 10? Does it get worse as the run goes on? Is it worse 24 hours after the run? What activities do or do not trigger the pain? 

Ranking the pain on a scale of 1 – 10, helps you decide whether to complete a training session.  It also helps determine patterns in your training and track progress.  Record these rankings in your training log to spot patterns.  If the pain is a 5 of above, you should not complete the training session.  I describe a pain scale of 5 as, ‘the pain is constantly in your thoughts, and you consistently ask yourself if it is wise to continue exercising’.  If the pain gets worse as the workout goes on, this is a red flag and you should adjust your training load.  If the pain is worse 24 hours after a workout, you should also adjust your training load.  Recording what activities trigger pain is important information to share with a health professional or coach, and it provides you with possible exercise modes that can be done pain-free.

 

  1. What actions can I take to improve the pain?

Coming up with an effective plan to improve pain and get back to normal training as quickly as possible will be imperative.  A good way to do this is to involve health professionals such as a physical therapist, sports medicine physician, and/or sports massage therapist.  Involving a team of support, will help you avoid overuse injuries in the future.

 

Question to ask yourself

Action

Is this a new or recurring niggle?

New: Determine anatomical marker where pain is.

Recurring: follow steps that improved it in the past

How bad is pain on scale of 1 – 10?

If it is a 5 or above, do not complete the training session. Record pain rankings in your training log.

Does it get worse as the workout session goes on?

If yes, this is a red flag and training load should be adjusted.

Is pain worse 24 hours after the workout?

If yes, this is a red flag and training load should be adjusted.

What activities do or do not trigger pain?

Record pain rankings in your training log. Look at the training log to determine what activities triggered pain.

What actions can I take to improve the pain?

Determine the best health professional(s) that can help diagnose the injury, provide rehab exercises, and perform body work if necessary.

Reference:

Fields, K. B., Sykes, J. C., Walker, K. M., Jackson, J. C. (2010). Prevention of running injuries. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9: 176-82.

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