Attacking the Injury
Injury sucks. It destroys confidence as well as hard-won fitness. It makes you sit there staring sullenly out the window, and it makes every attempted run/training session a minefield of disaster.
My knee is FUBAR. I’ll get a couple of kilometres in and WHAM, searing, stabbing pain in my left knee. It stops the run pretty sharpish. The strange thing is that I don’t get much pain, if any, when I walk (only if I walk any kind of distance do I get a twinge).
The good news is that I managed to get to 4.5km on Saturday. My knee started to hurt about a kilometre from the end, which is further than I had got before, and it didn’t hurt so much that I had to stop. This is a positive step!
The trick is with injuries is to know what you’re dealing with. Unfortunately, when it comes to my knee we have no bloody clue. Which means there is always the vague possibility of a knee operation hanging over my head and it’s making me almost too nervous to test it in the first place. Ultimately, we think it’s some damage in the tendons or ligaments (which is vague enough for us to react with a shrug most days).
Tricks to dealing with an injury? Keep an ice-pack and painkillers handy…
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. As soon as you hurt yourself – particularly your knee or ankle – grab an ice pack, find somewhere comfortable to put your leg up (recommended above your heart) and chill out for about 15 minutes, or until the area has gone numb. Repeat as often as you need, with decent breaks (about an hour) in between.
I’m not one of those people who grabs the pills at every little thing. In fact, I’m not a huge fan of treating stuff with pills full stop; got a headache? Drink more water. Cold? Try some vitamin C and lots of green veg. But I am a great believer in Ibuprofen. These genius pills attack the pain from the inside, as well reducing the swelling. Take them two or three days in a row, tops (check the packet for recommended dosage and don’t go over that, no matter how painful!). You probably won’t even need to take that many.
3. Stop when it hurts
As I said above, my knee often doesn’t let me get very far before giving up on me. It does mean I have to hobble home from a good distance out, and that can be frustrating. The temptation, more often than not, is to “push on” through the pain and get as close to the finish line as possible. This is BAD. Really bad. Quite literally one of the worst things you could possibly do. You risk making your injury so much worse, and possibly permanent. Listen to your body, recognise when it calls a time-out, and comply. You have to realise your limits. Even if it does mean a hobble home.
4. Don’t Google your symptoms
If you’re not sure what’s wrong with you, DO NOT GOOGLE IT. You will end up convinced you have some kind of incurable disease and you’re going to need the injured limb amputated unless you get some kind of exotic medicine. Which leads me to point number five…
5. If in doubt, talk to the doctors
It’s no good fretting yourself in to a complete state. If your injury isn’t sorting itself out after RICE, anti-inflammatories, more rest, and easing yourself (SLOWLY) back in to training, then it’s time to see the GP. Don’t rush in spouting the internet’s collection of horror stories and demanding an operation. The doctor will be able to assess the injury and recommend an X-Ray, MRI or further dose of painkillers depending on how severe it is. They do tend to know best!
And on that note, folks, I’m about to go test my knee on another run. (In this weather it might be the wind and rain that turns me back, not the agonising pain). Wish me luck!