The Injury Conundrum
Understanding an injury – and settling on an effective way to aid recovery and healing – is not always easy. But by paying attention to your body and listening to the advice of experts, you are more likely to get back to health safely and quickly.
What is an injury? What are the best treatments for an injury? As someone who works in the fitness industry and would like to think that his knowledge is pretty good I thought I would have the answer to these questions. However, in the last couple of weeks I’ve realised what a grey area this ‘injury’ can be. I’ve been training for the Brighton marathon over recent months, and over the course of training have experienced ‘niggles’, pain, and now most certainly have become injured. How can you define the difference between them, though, and what is the right course of action to take?
Marathon training pains
Marathon training had been on track and going well. My longest run has been 25km, and I’ve taken 5 minutes off my personal best time for half marathon, as well as setting new PBs for 5k and 10k. Then whilst doing a light training run I felt an excruciating pain in my left knee. Most people who train will experience pain of some kind, particularly runners with the repetitive nature of running. This pain felt different though. Since picking up my injury I’ve been doing a lot of research, and been given vastly different advice. I decided to go back to basics.
Many definitions of ‘injury’
Google became my most used app. I was searching for answers on specific injuries, but then thinking what the definition of pain actually is. Pain is defined as a “highly unpleasant physical sensation caused by illness or injury”. This took me onto what is an injury? Google definitions are vague to say the least. Examples of being injured are given, facts of injuries, and even damage to a person’s feelings but no clear definition. The Cambridge dictionary defines injury as “physical harm or damage to someone’s body caused by an accident or attack”.
My injury – a personal test
I don’t know how or what has caused this knee issue. I was running at a slower speed than I normally would, and had not been overloading my training beforehand. It was the start of a week, I wasn’t burnt out, so why now? I suppose your body has a way of testing you from time to time. This was now going to be my test. Normally I would try and push through the ‘pain barrier’ having previously played football, and ‘got through it’. However, this time, with a bit more maturity and an older body to keep in check I did some reading, and got some advice from colleagues. This was then backed up by a physio who has told me that I have a meniscal injury on my left knee. The best treatment being to ice, elevate, compress, heat and rest. 6-8 weeks of rest!! My heart sank. The marathon is only 10 weeks away!
Follow expert advice
Many thoughts have entered my head. The exuberant, raw me of previous years trying to come back out. Could I ignore him and just run anyway? Its only pain I’ve been through it before. Then I’d come back down to earth and have now decided to follow advice for once in my life. I’ve been regularly icing the joint, elevating the knee, and a bout of illness has probably helped in terms of being off my feet for longer than I normally would be, enabling me to rest. My goal has definitely altered slightly which has helped psychologically in terms of pressure I was putting on myself. A 3hr 30min – 3hr 45 min aim has been stretched to ‘I’d love to actually complete my first marathon’ which is a different way for me to look at things, but long term most definitely the best.
Get to know your body
Advice I would give after what I’ve experienced in this situation would definitely be to get to know your body. As clients of mine (particularly more experienced clients) would say, when you wake up in the morning you will know if what you are experiencing is a normal ache, a stiffness from the weather etc, a slight pain, or something to worry about. In terms of exercise, if you feel it is something to worry about, get it seen to, so as not to aggravate it. Follow the correct treatments and aftercare actions, and try not to shortcut. Your body will let you know when it’s ready to carry on.
As someone who has pushed through the pain many times before, I’m hoping that by following the correct action, my body may hopefully heal quicker than expected, in which case I can get some more training complete before marathon day is here. If not, it will definitely be an interesting experience, but one that I look forward to joining the other thousands of participants on nonetheless. Hope your training is going well and most importantly injury free. Keep up the good work, and as previously mentioned, share your stories with me if you wish. Always good to see what people are going through, both the successes and the challenges.