Dealing with Injury

Published in Blog

Additional Info

  • Intro Shortcode:
    MRI

I've been thinking about injury and how it has played a role in my journey.  In the early years, I would ignore injuries hoping it would just go away.  Or I'd push through it because -- no pain, no gain.  And then once I'd recognize it wasn't going away, I would google the symptoms only to learn I had some rare and fatal disorder.  Then I would search, or even post, on the various forums to get yet more "professional" opinions.  All the while, continuing to train in a half-assed manner -- not really accomplishing much other than dragging it out further into my training block. 

Now I'm on the other end of the spectrum where I typically stop when an ache or pain pops up.  As a general rule, when in doubt, I treat it with respect and let's take a day off. 

While compiling my thoughts for this post, I came up with some points I'd like to share:

PROBLEMS DO NOT GET BETTER WITH AGE.

Tell me if the following makes sense -- I have Achilles tendonitis but if I keep running, I think everything is going to work out.  

It obviously does not make sense.  Going back to what I was saying above, if you have an injury, ignoring it probably won't make it go away.  So let's face it head on and deal with it. 

KEEP AN INJURY DIARY.

I have pages of Word docs with detailed notes on my injuries.  I'm old and I forget things but if I write them down, I'll actually remember I tore the meniscus in my left knee and not my right.  I keep the date of when it started, the symptoms, and then almost every day, I write in an entry.  Later on, I can go back if something hurts in a similar spot and see if it's the same thing, what I did, who I saw, and how long it took for recovery.

NOT ALL PROBLEMS ARE SPORT RELATED.

I took a header on the trails last year and I broke my finger.  Technically, it's an injury I acquired while running but it isn't a running injury -- it's not an overuse or biomechanical issue.  Let's say I bruised my foot on a rock.  Now it's pain in my foot and if I don't recall the impact with the rock, the origin becomes unclear and it might appear to be an  actual running injury.

This is where things get a little muddy but I'm probably going to take a day off.  When I return, I'll evaluate the situation.  Did the day off improve the situation?  Does running (or whatever discipline) make it hurt more, less, or no change?  If running doesn't make the situation worse, I'm likely to continue training. 

ALL IN OR ALL OUT.

I don't like half-assed training.  If at all possible, I want to be all in or I want to be in recover mode.  That's a lot easier to say and isn't always the case because there are times when we need to move to improve.  But I don't want to be in a situation where something hurts, running is making it worse, and I think that maybe I'll go out and for a short run.  The twisted logic is that I don't want to lose too much fitness and this one run is going to bridge that gap.  People think like that -- I used to think like that.

SEE A DOCTOR, DOCTORS ARE FOR INFORMATION -- DON'T BE A NAIL.

I'm very familiar with a lot of my aches and pains because most of them have been professionally diagnosed.  I might not go to a doctor every single time but only because I've already seen a doctor or two for a few of these injuries already.  But when an unknown ache or pain appears that isn't in my knowledgebase, or something is taking longer to heal than what I'd normally expect, I'm going to make an appointment with a doctor. 

The Internet is not a doctor.  The lady on the triathlon forum is not a doctor.  Doctors are doctors.  Go see a doctor. Go see a GOOD doctor.  Do your research, get recommendations from other athletes, and get a professional opinion from a REAL professional. 

That said, doctors are big into healing and healing can take the form of knives, needles, and medicines.  Someone once told me that doctors are running around with a hammer looking for a nail. 

I just want advice.  I was once opposed to x-rays but after a few positive experiences, even with soft tissue, I think x-rays are ok.  X-rays aren't as good as an MRI for soft tissue injuries but they can still provide information.  Outside of that, I'm very reluctant to take a step further.

In my history, I've had a few x-rays, exactly one MRI, zero needles and zero surgeries.  I did get prescribed anti-inflams for me meniscus tear.  Knock on wood -- I've managed to stay away from drastic measures.

TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS.

... most wounds.  There are a lot of injuries that aren't going away on their own but in most cases, if you take enough time off, your body will resolve the issue on its own.  You have to be patient and I want you to consider this -- it took about three months to get to a point where I could start running after I tore my meniscus.  If I had listened to the original doctor, it would have taken longer to recover from the surgery he wanted to do.  We are not good at waiting and while the surgery might seem like we're doing something, doing nothing is something -- we're healing. 

DON'T BE AFRAID OF WHAT DOESN'T HURT.

I deal with this problem because I'm a little too cautious.  When I decide to return to training, I'm hyper-aware of everything and I fixate on the most minor sensations.  When I'm whole, I feel minor sensations but I probably ignore them but when I'm returning after an injury, I question everything. 

What was the original pain and is that what I'm feeling?  Or is it just the normal day to day aches?  Sometimes you need to just ignore the sensations because it's paranoia.  I notice the more days I get into my return, the less I pay attention to the body part.  One day, you'll get to a point where you don't even pay attention to it for the entire session and that's the day you'll realize everything is ok. 

It takes time -- be patient.