Injuries can make you a better runner


I have never enjoyed going to the dentist, but I have learnt over the years that magical home remedies work for a limited time only. Eventually, I need to put on my brave and face the dentist chair. So these days, I save myself weeks of misery and just make that appointment.

Many times we have the same approach with our running injuries. We rest, we try all sorts of rubs and tapes, but weeks or even months later we are either miserably hobbling along just dealing with it, or have stopped all together. And many times we could have saved ourselves much misery and fitness loss if we had just made that physio appointment.

It is a bit like getting a flat tire on your bicycle. If you keep on cycling with the flat you are going to cause more damage and it is not going to be much fun. If you just park it in the garage, it also ain’t going to magically inflate itself over time. You need to ultimately fix the leak and – this is a very important and – remove anything sharp still stuck in the tire that could cause a new puncture.

Running per se has often unfairly got the blame for many injuries. Yes, the injury might have occurred while running, but lets get real, there are not too many injuries you can suffer while sitting on the couch. The problem rarely lies with the running but more with a body that is not primed for the demands of running.

If you never put water in a cracked glass, it will never leak.

In the same way, we all have varying degrees of muscle weakness, joint immobility and flawed running movement patterns. Running does not so much create the problem as it exposes that we have a problem. And the more you run, because of its repetitive nature, the more likely something is going to show up. Especially if you do the classic “too much too soon.”

Now while this has all been sounding a little doom and gloom up until now, there is good news. A large percentage of running injuries can become pain free and our running joy restored IF we find the thorn and take it out of the tire.

Getting to the cause and applying corrective measures to improve muscle strength, joint mobility and correct movement patterns (a.k.a all the homework your physio gives you that you never do!) can not only nail that nagging injury once and for all, but you will come out the other side a stronger, more efficient runner = greater running joy and improved performance. I’ll take that!

While there are exceptions, such as injury due to structural abnormalities that cannot be altered, the majority of chronic injuries need not remain chronic.

Any therapist, be it a physiotherapist, biokineticist, chiropractor etc. worth their salt will be able to:

#1 – Determine the underlying cause of your injury.

#2 – Not only reduce the pain so you can continue running, but also assist you with steps to take to rectify the cause (i.e. remove the thorns from the tire).

#3 – Educate you on maintaining your body in a strong, healthy, balanced state while training to reduce injury risk and improve performance.

So next time you face injury, see it as an opportunity to sort out some weaknesses and come back an even stronger runner than before!

Onwards and upwards!

Coach Kathleen