Monday, July 16, 2012
Coach Lea offer some great suggestions for avoiding injury this season...
The following tips come from Boulder-based F4 coach Lea Stenerson. Lea has enjoyed coaching and instructing a variety of sports for over 20 years, and has been working with FastForward Sports since its inception in 2005. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine and a master’s degree in exercise physiology. In addition to coaching and personal training, Lea teaches anatomy and physiology at Regis University.
Over the next couple of months, our overall training volume will be increasing and our long runs will be jumping up in distance and duration. As such, it’s important to keep the following in mind with regards to injuries, and, more specifically, getting on top of any pain quickly.
Typically, pain in a joint is not "good" pain, but is more likely an injury. Muscle pain is a bit more difficult to distinguish. When we do an activity that our muscles are not specifically conditioned to (e.g., hills, extra speed, extra distance, a new movement, etc,), the muscles undergo micro-tearing, which sometimes causes soreness. You may not experience this discomfort until up to 48 hours post workout (this is called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness).
After a workout, there will also be some lactate build-up in the muscles, adding to the feeling of pain and soreness. The muscles will build themselves back up (if given adequate recovery), eventually becoming stronger and allowing us to tolerate the specific activity better.
Since an "injury" (especially an overuse injury) can start off as a sore muscle, it can be difficult to tell initially if it is more serious or just soreness that will resolve. For example, after an initial (or harder) hill workout, it’s more or less expected that you will have some sore calves, hamstrings, glutes and possibly hip flexors too. This may show up in one side of your body more than another due to terrain, muscle imbalances and our individual running biomechanics; we’re not always as symmetrical as we'd like to think! This is normal and is from stressing these muscles with the extra resistance (i.e., hills). It will typically feel like tightness with a little tenderness and will go away within a few days after it starts.
More intense throbbing and/or shooting pain is a warning sign and will require more rest. However, any pain/soreness gone unchecked can turn into something more serious and debilitating.
Following are some things to keep in mind to do as soon as possible to avoid letting a sore muscle or mild pain go too far.
· Light recovery running/walking/cycling/swimming (20-30 min. easy) will help blood circulate to the muscles, encouraging recovery.
· After hard workouts, it's a good idea to ICE massage (i.e., ice in a dixie cup) any sore muscles or painful areas for 10-12 minutes. Regular ice in a bag (or frozen peas/corn/blueberries/cranberries) for 12-15 minutes followed by light massaging will also work. Light stretching and using a foam roller will also be helpful.
· Ibuprofen (600 mg) will assist not only with the pain but also with inflammation and has been suggested by some after tough workouts.
In general, the rule is to ice acute injuries (especially after workouts) with light massage and stretching. If the pain continues, rest will be required. After 72 hours you can start using contrast (heat 5 min., ice 5 min., then repeat 2-3x), or just heat as long as the inflammation is mostly gone. And, finally, but very importantly, seek medical advice from your doctor whenever in doubt!