Active people tend to think of injuries after they happened or after the point when they become painful or uncomfortable. Because of some medication for alleviating pain is available over the counter, we can forget about an injury for shorter or longer periods of time.
Most of these medicines also act as anti-inflammatories, so they heal. It’s natural to forget about physical issues once we “treat” them. We are in fact only treating the effect and not think about the cause.
The lazy glute
Andreea had a 6 months long knee pain, and she delayed seeing a physiotherapist as much as she could because she was afraid she’s gonna be told not to run for a while and we still had some running events in our calendar. The pain wasn’t too uncomfortable to rush her to the doctor, but it was constantly there and got sharper when she exercised, whether it was gym or running.
No more than 15 minutes were needed by the specialist to figure out that her muscles were too weak on one side of the upper leg, so the knee was overcompensating, eventually leading to inflammation. The scan didn’t show any damage to the knee, so not only she can still exercise, she gets to do new exercises to strengthen the glutes. Lesson here: don’t be afraid to go to the physio!
I also had the same problem but manifested differently. I was losing balance quickly whenever I was performing an exercise that only involved one leg or one side of the body. Not just losing balance, but I could feel, in an upsetting way, that one side of the upper leg was weaker. So the other side was overcompensating, which was leading to some pain and discomfort. Reading a lot of literature and knowing about posture, I am sure that the balance problem also affects my running gait. Again, a visit to the doctor revealed this.
Both of us had the same problem, but different symptoms and they will both be treated the same way, by doing more exercises for strengthening the gluteus minimus and medius muscles. Lesson here: include in your fitness routine exercises that train each side of your body separately (for ex, single leg squats).
Have someone to guide you in the beginning
Today, with the help of the Internet and blogosphere and all the places you can get information from, you could, in theory, start doing various workouts from building muscle to yoga and pilates all by yourself. But everyone knows or should know that internet workouts are generalized and the best workout for you is a bespoke one, which you can only get from a specialist, in this case, a personal trainer.
A good personal trainer will spot your weaknesses and will try to tackle them. It’s similar to nutrition. You could follow various diets, but the best diet is one that fits you and not the general public. You need someone to guide you through at least at some of your journey.
Running is special. The only thing you need to do to start running is… dust your trainers and go out. It’s really that simple. You don’t need to know about interval training or hill reps or long runs; you can just run how many miles you fancy, then head back home.
But there’s a downside to that. Even when you’re just running, without specifically trying to enhance your performance, you’re starting to put pressure on your body. And any weakness will eventually cause an injury. And don’t think of an injury as of something critical or painful, it can be a light knee pain or stiff hip. But even though some pains emerge in a lighter form, they can become very serious conditions if left untreated over time.
A knee pain can be nothing more than a weak core. A weak core will cause a bad posture during running, which might mean an incorrect gait, and that will cause one leg working harder than the other. A physio/ostheo therapist together with a personal trainer can spot and tackle the cause.
Of course, many conditions aren’t treatable this way. However, I am sure that starting to workout and strengthening your muscles will mean better posture and less pain for most runners. Even if they’re running just for the sake of it, or they’re into winning races and being better and faster.
Lessons for runners: don’t let any pain or anything unusual or uncomfortable develop and seek for help as soon as possible; strength and conditioning are as important as the running itself (and I noticed many runners don’t strength train).
Anyone else with similar experiences? How do you prevent injuries?