Runners get hurt all the time. Whether it’s from doing too much without a day off, slipping on a rocky trail run or simply stubbing a toe, getting hurt happens. Running injuries are more than common and bouncing back from one can be as simple as ice and elevation or as complicated as surgery and physical therapy. In truth, however, they’re quite often very preventable.
Were you tackled in a football game? That’s easy to source. Do you have daily low back pain and discomfort? Maybe your hamstrings are tight or weak. Are you having knee pain because you over stride while you run? Foot pain from weak glutes? Finding the source isn’t always easy but it’s always necessary.
That’s because simply taking time off until your injured body feels better isn’t the answer. Without understanding where your injury came from you’re likely to go out and sooner or later go through the same thing again. So what’s the solution? Find and treat the source (poor mobility, bad form), not the symptom (pain, strained muscle). Examples include foot problems from a lack of glute strength or knee pain from over striding. The location of your injury isn’t where it presents because your body compensates to continue functioning. These compensations can end up causing something even more serious.
To get to the root, ask yourself these questions:
What was I doing?
Are my movement patterns correct?
Do I have adequate mobility to perform these movements safely?
Am I using the correct equipment?
Do I take care of my body before and after a workout properly?
Am I over training?
Answering these questions will probably mean getting help from a coach, doctor or teacher who has the knowledge to guide you. Get to the root cause, upstream or down, of your problem and kiss (most of) those running injuries goodbye.
Running is hard. When training regularly the human body is put through stress after stress to get stronger and faster. It’s called progressive overload. Constantly challenging our bodies in new ways to perform better on race day. To reap the benefits of that hard work, however, we need to recover. That’s where the ever needed rest day comes in. Included in any quality training plan, here are five reasons to love giving yourself a day off.
Reflect. Taking a rest day gives you an opportunity to review your block of training. You can decide if you liked something, didn’t like it, did it well or had an ugly workout. Knowing what made each session a great or not-so-great one will help you adjust your plan so you can move forward in a positive way.
Recover. Pushing yourself during workouts is a must for improved performance. Easy days are a must, too. Each workout creates micro tears in muscle fibers that need to be repaired. Along with those beat up muscles go tendons and bones. Blood flow to tendons is a lot less than to muscle and they take longer to recover. Bones likewise get damaged and need to rebuild from being landed on thousands of times. A day off can be a big boon for avoiding tendonitis, stress fractures and any other over use injury.
Balance. Every workout produces a stress hormone called cortisol and too much is a bad thing. Rest days help get cortisol levels back in balance so you can feel fresh for the next session.
Adaptation. Not only does a rest day let your muscles repair damage, it repairs them better than they were before. Allowing your body to heal is when it actually builds those more powerful muscles, stronger bones and tougher tendons.
Learning to listen. Do you feel good after your rest day? Experience a boost in performance? Great! You nailed it. On the other hand, if you still feel tired or unreasonably sore after one rest day, take another. Pay attention to what your body tells you. An extra rest day will never derail your entire training cycle. It’s better to be 10% under trained than 1% over trained.
Train smarter not harder.