Lessons from Injury
"[Working through an injury] gave me time to experiment with trial and error, collaborate with other physical therapists, gain more awareness in how I can better help my clients, push myself to be involved in different fitness activities, and learn to be patient with the process."
It’s 2016 and I’m halfway through marathon training. I felt spry and confident and was expecting a solid finish time.
Here I am, a few days post-travel, out for short run - halfway through I slowed to a limp and then walk - all symptoms pointing to the “all too common” IT band syndrome in runners. I had never really been injured before, except ankle sprains, so I just assumed I’d be back into the training game soon enough.
I wasn’t able to race that year. Here's what I learned:
- Injuries take time. I don’t just mean a couple weeks. First we need to fix our deficits, then neurologically our brains and muscles have to relearn correct patterns.
- Pace yourself. Just because you can run fast doesn’t mean you have to do it every time. Slow down and enjoy the ride!
- Mix up your routine. Even if it means dropping a run or two here and there to fit it in. Add in single leg strengthening, yoga, stretching, subtle drills to reset your system - whatever it is that helps you balance out your training.
- Don’t push too much on stiffness. Travel, sitting too much, decreased hydration, etc all affect muscle stiffness. If you’re feeling stiff, work through it first before you add too much speed or resistance.
- Get advice from professionals. Unbiased feedback and advice from experienced professionals will help you see things from a different perspective and learn new ways to help and manage injuries and training.
- Consistency is key. Trying something once or twice might decrease the burden, but finding what works for you and sticking to a program consistently is the best way out of injury.
I understand my brief injury is minimal in comparison to many. But not being able to race that year was a humbling lesson for me. It gave me time to experiment with trial and error, collaborate with other physical therapists, gain more awareness in how I can better help my clients, push myself to be involved in different fitness activities, and learn to be patient with the process.