Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Agony of Injury. How to Cope With and Prevent Common Running Injuries

Woe is me...I have a running injury. This time the culprit seems to be anterior tendonitis/extensor tendonitis in my right foot. Try as I might to stay injury-free, it seems to happen to me at least once or twice a year. I should be more accepting of it but it really irritates me! I want to learn how to better cope with the frustration of not running during these instances and also how to minimize the reoccurrence of these pesky injuries.

So let's start with how to cope shall we? One obvious thing that can be done is cross-training. You can ride a bike, swim or run in the pool, use the eliptical trainer and do yoga or pilates to stay active and in shape during non-running periods. Cross-training may not replace your desire to run, but you'll just have to be patient or patiently impatient.

If you're having a difficult time mentally coping with your injury, you can talk about it with someone. This person can be a loved one, friend or even a therapist if you are feeling depressed. Try writing your feelings down in a journal or blog post. Sometimes just writing is a stress-reliever. Look through some of your old race memorabilia to remind yourself of your past accomplishments. Try to remember that your injury is just temporary and you will be back to running and accomplishing more great things soon. You may want to schedule a race a little farther down the road to stay motivated and focused on the future.

Now I would like to share with you some advice that I have received from professionals and fellow athletes  to help minimize the chance of getting injured. It may be impossible to stay injury-free 100% of the time but following these tips should increase your odds of staying healthy when you're on the run:

  • Make sure you are fitted for a running shoe that works well for you - Go to a local running store or sports health professional and have them evaluate your footwear needs before you buy. You don't want to run in a minimalist shoe if you heel-strike or are a heavier runner. 
  • Don't increase your mileage too much too soon - The general rule is to keep your mileage within no more than a 10% increase a week. For example if your longest run this week is supposed to be 10 miles long then your longest run next week should be 11 miles. 
  • Know when to back off - Not everyone can run everyday. Only you know how your body feels. Some people must run every other day or just a couple times a week. Listen to your body. If something is tight or achy take a day or two off and then reassess your situation.
  • Alternate your shoes if running frequently - Make sure you have at least two pairs of training shoes that you can rotate to allow for the shoes to adjust back to their normal state. Most shoes need to be retired somewhere around 300 miles usually.
  • Don't lace shoes up too tight - Apparently lacing too tightly can cause issues with the top of the foot so be cautious of how tightly you are lacing up.
  • Warm up and cool down - Take the time to stretch a little and start off at a slower, easier pace to get going. You should also run slower or walk to cool down so you can get your heart rate down and allow your body time to loosen up.
  • Alternate harder workouts with easy workouts - For example if your long run is always planned for Sunday then your Monday workout should be an easier recovery run or lower impact activity such as swimming or yoga.
  • Include core/strength work as part of your routine - Make sure you include at least two days of core strengthening in your schedule. It can be anything from yoga or pilates class to lifting at the gym and doing exercises like squats, leg lifts, etc or something like p90x core that focuses on a number of muscle groups.
  • Supplement with Vitamin D - Make sure you're eating enough foods with calcium and take a supplement of vitamin D. My physician recommended 10000 iu daily for me but you can check with physician for a specific dosage for you.
  • Hydrate to avoid cramping - Be sure to drink water or sports drinks before and after your run to help alleviate any cramping that can result due to dehydration. Running with cramps may lead to muscle tightness that causes injury.
As of today I have been off for a week. I am feeling better but not yet 100%. I hope to be ready to test my right foot out later this week or weekend. In the meantime I am stretching, icing, resting as much as I can along with taking ibuprofen. If anyone has additional suggestions I am all ears. Here's to happy, healthy running for me in the near future!


  1. Thanks Jan. It stinks but I hope to be back to running within the next week or two. Just a little setback.

    1. Oh man!!! So I shouldn't run in Stilettos? Dang it, why do I always miss the obvious answers!!!


      Heal up, sweet girl.

  2. Thanks mama bear. it's coming along. was able to run an easy 9 on it last weekend. Have a run scheduled for tonight and this weekend.keeping fingers crossed!