Recently I have been writing a lot about how to train for a race and stay injury-free. I have already published articles about how to properly schedule your training sessions to reduce the risk of injury; How to properly stretch before a training session; and how to test yourself for an injury if you feel pain while training. Today I'll share some tips to treat an injury at home if you have one.
Self care at home
Self care is essential to learn when you are an endurance athlete. As you build from being a couch potato to that next level, invariably you will have some growing pains. How you treat those growing pains is essential for your future success.
First things is first, remember the acronym R.I.C.E.
“R” stands for rest. Slow down and rest the injured area, get off your feet, your body is a self healing organism, give it a chance to heal.
“I” stands for ice, there are many different opinions on the application of ice. My belief is that when we get injured inflammation is one of the body’s first responses to the affected muscle, ligament, bone, or joint. If you add heat to the fire, the fire gets hotter, so ice it for 15-20 minutes to cool off that inflammation.
“C” stands for compression, wrap the affected area in an ace bandage to keep the ice on the area and once you are through icing, re wrap the area to compress and keep excess inflammation from infiltrating the area.
“E” stands for elevate. While you are resting keep the affected area higher than the level of your heart. This helps the affected area and inflammation drain from the lymphatic system into the blood system to enhance healing. Once you have rested, used ice, kept the area compressed and elevated, it is time for a self assessment again. When you wake up the next morning, I suggest you check in with the affected area and do a cross training day. Test and see if working the area on a bike or in a pool can be done. Movement, if not increasing the pain, generally will help pump the body’s lymphatic system and aid in the healing process. If you cannot do the other movements because the pain increases or does not lessen it may be time to seek help.
Stretching is a great way to keep your muscles supple, relaxed and fluid. Excessive exercise often causes micro tears in muscles as they are expanding and growing in function and capacity. If these tears do not heal appropriately, scarring and adhesions result, which can make injury more likely. Stretching or foam rolling is a good idea to prevent adhesions from happening maintaining a supple and fluid muscle function. Several stretches which can help keep your muscles in great shape include:
Foot and calf stretches to help or prevent plantar fascitis or calf strain are as follows:
Foot conditioning: Roll a golf ball along the bottom of your foot while sitting on your couch. Roll for 30 sec - 2 minutes at a time and you can vary the pressure by putting more weight on the ball.
Calf stretch- Stand with one foot entirely on a step, and the other foot half on the step with the ball of the foot at the edge. With your leg straight of the half on foot, gently drop the heel towards the floor and you will feel the calf muscle stretch. Hold the stretch for a count of 10 -15 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Tensa fasciae lata stretches to prevent knee or hip pain consists of the following: While lying on your back bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Take your right foot and place your ankle just above your left knee in a figure 4. Reach your right hand between your legs and claspe your left hand behind. Lift your left knee and pull it towards your left shoulder. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the opposite side. Done correctly when the right leg is over the left you will feel the stretch on the lateral side of right hip, glute and knee. And the opposite when you do the other side.
Lower back and hip stretch to reduce injury and maintain fluidity consists of the following: While on the floor lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Raise one knee at a time and grab it with both hands bringing it to your same side shoulder. Pull the knee towards your shoulder and hold for a count of 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side. Next, in the same position, grab your knee and pull it toward the opposite shoulder and hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side. The first stretch you will feel in your lower back and glutes and the opposite shoulder stretch you should feel the stretch in the lower back, glutes and hip.
I hope this helps! Remember if you have a question you can always click here to ask, I usually get back to people within 24 hours.