How can one recover from an injury in the quickest time possible?

Written for Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2012 Race Preparation Articles

Injuries occur because there is an imbalance between 2 processes: recovery and stress. If the rate of stress on the body is higher than the rate of recovery, we can expect injury to occur without a doubt. If it is the opposite, you can be sure you are unlikely to get injured. Thus the key to injury prevention is by having adequate rest after each training session that you undergo and this is dependent on the individual.

However in the event that you are injured, there are several methods to recover from an injury as quickly as possible and here are some tried and tested methods that I have utilised over the years.

1. Rest

Resting is the gold standard for recovery. Resting allows your body to heal and recovery in a natural manner. However, this requires a huge amount of patience which can be difficult to achieve especially in this fast paced world we live in. However, giving yourself enough time to rest can be the best advice I can give.

2. Icing

Icing is key to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a destructive process which is the pre cursor to recovery. Our body needs to break things down before building them back up again. For example when you cut yourself, the surrounding area gets red and sore before a scar forms and everything goes back to normal. Similar to injuries occurring in your body, the surrounding areas gets affected even though no harm has been done to it. This causes unnecessary pain and destruction that can be controlled by cooling the area down. Icing the area after each training session can help reduce the inflammation.

3. Compression and elevation

Compression and elevation of the injured area can help reduce the swelling that can lead to discomfort and loss of function. This can be done such as by sleeping with a pillow beneath your legs to lift it up against gravity.

4. Get to the root of the problem

Finding the root cause of your injury can be very difficult. It would be easy if the trigger causes injuries the next day – i.e. if you did something wrong today, you will get injured the next day. This would allow us to trace our mistakes to the cause. However this is not the case as I have experienced. Very often, the cause of an injury can be due to something you did months ago such as starting to increase your running mileage too quickly over the past few months. Thus it was not the run the day before that has really injured you but the cumulative effect of the runs that your body has gone through over the months. This makes it difficult to pin point the true culprit.

Other common causes of injuries include the wrong choice of shoes, poor biomechanics and poor terrain. If you are new to the running community, seek help from friends who are more experienced and if still in doubt, approach a coach or a sports physician to help you identify these triggers.

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