Friday, July 18, 2014

Managing your injuries

Just when I thought that I was finding my stride after the Syracuse Ironman 70.3, I hit another obstacle! Within the last mile of that race I landed awkwardly on the grassy downhill. I knew that my knee took quite the blow at the time, but still was able to run strong to the finish line. Soon after the race I knew that something was not right. I hoped and wished that the pain would go away. After the race I took about a week off running, thinking that would do the trick. It definitely helped, but I decided to jump right back into hard training on the following Monday. Although I was conscious of the fact that my knee didn't feel quite right, I continued to press on. This was a mistake. Overcompensating for my knee I developed strains in the surrounding muscles and the inflammation in my knee worsened to the point where it hurt to even walk. This forced me to take a necessary break from training at the beginning of this week. You can't really train when it hurts to swim, bike and run :(

My initial reaction to my injury was to sit on the couch, sulk, freak out reading research online for ALL the possible causes of my injury and EAT ALL THE FOOD. Three bowls of ice cream later I re-evaluated the situation. I decided that the best thing to do was to figure out the best way to promote my recovery. Obviously eating tons of sugar wasn't a good start, but here are a few things that I did afterwards:

1) Iced my knee. Probably the obvious thing to do to reduce inflammation. I don't typically take NSAIDs to reduce inflammation, because they can DELAY healing if there is an injury. The inflammation brings in the cells needed to repair the tissue damage. Applying cold stimulates blood flow to the area to bring in those "repair cells". So does elevating the knee above the heart.

2) Made appointments with my awesome chiropractor, Bill Wells, and to get acupuncture. Many people make the mistake of JUST resting, but that can lead to scar tissue forming at the site of injury. Chiropractic techniques and acupuncture help expedite the healing process and reduce the chance of scar tissue forming. These specialists can also help to determine the underlying cause of the pain.

3) Use the foam roller on the surrounding muscles (hamstrings, quads, glutes) to make sure they were all nice and loose. If tight muscles surrounding the knee are the actual cause of the pain then this will help.

4) Booked an ultrasound to rule out anything serious (like a torn ligament, etc.). The worst thing to do is be left guessing what your injury is. Knowing exactly what you are dealing with allows you to better treat the injury and not take any chances rushing back into activity too soon.

5) Rested. Well, tried to. I suffer from a sort of "I can't sit still for more than 10 minutes" type of syndrome. Probably familiar to many triathletes. Some things that helped me rest: fuse beads, solitaire, Netflix...

6) Shifted my mindset from a negative one to a positive one: the extra time I would save by not running meant I would have extra time for stretching, swimming and biking and other things that I enjoy (like going to the zoo with Maddycake!).

7) Tried to eat healthy! You need vitamins and other nutrients for the injury to heal. So, when you are injured it is extremely important to avoid junk foods.

I am happy to report that today I have been PAIN-FREE for a few days AND my ultrasound showed no structural damage to the knee, just a bit of excess fluid (inflammation). I should be ready to run soon :)

This post is dedicated to Pete Miles. Because he was the one who emailed me asking why I hadn't been blogging recently! When I responded that being injured doesn't inspire creativity, I instantly realized what I could blog about.