Well, I am still laid up and grouchy with this groin injury. My husband asked me if I was going to blog today and I answered, "No, I don't have anything to write about." He suggested I write about injuries and how they are a part of the training process. So, in an effort to turn that frown upside down and make lemonade out of lemons, I am going to talk about injuries; how they occur and how to heal.
In my experience, injuries occur as a result when one or more of the following factors are present: event during training that causes the injury, over training, and stress. There are also a myriad of supporting players that may cause injury, your warm-up process (not enough), poor diet, and overall lifestyle. (More on those on another day).
1. Event during training that causes the injury: This is pretty basic. You are on a training run, you accidentally step on an uneven surface, you twist an ankle, and voila'! Ankle sprain.
2. Over training: This WILL happen if you decide to take on the attitude that rest time is a fluffy, silly, concept. If you are throwing kettel bells for one hour, then going to BJJ for two hours, then going on a run, and going to work, EVERYDAY, then you are over training. You know who you are, so knock it off. Injuries (emphasis on the plural) that happen as a result of over training start out as little pains here and there, a sore neck, a sore shoulder, low energy. Slowly, one or all of the little pains manifest themselves into green monsters of torn muscles, tendonitis, and stress fractures.
Intense training is a delicate balance, especially for those of us who work, have pets, kids, mortgages. There is a time to push through fatigue. Maybe during BJJ class (your one training element that day), you have challenged yourself to improve your speed, and at the end of class you are more tired than usual, but there are a two more rounds left. Smart training dictates you "dig" a bit and keep up your speed for those rounds, push a little beyond your previous limit and lift your skill to the next level. On the other hand, if your last daily workout of the day is always crappy because you already wore yourself out on the first two workouts, you are contributing to over training injuries. This is not improvement, this is a quick path to pain and misery.
3. Stress: I don't have any scientific explanations for this type of injury. During times of extreme life stress (divorce, death of a loved one, work issues), the body will "remind" you of the problem in the form of some kind of minor, localized pain. Years ago, I went through a divorce, and during the entire year of the process, my left knee hurt occasionally. It started one day on a run. A flat, slow, run. The pain never became terrible or debilitating, but it was there. Just hanging around like an annoying uninvited house guest. One week after my divorce was final, the mystery knee pain was gone.
Certain foods will help keep injuries at bay. Bananas will keep your potassium levels balanced, which will ward off mystery muscle aches. Copious amounts of water will flush your system, keep the body hydrated and supple. Healthy fats will keep your joints lubricated. But when it comes to a bonafide injury, (like this annoying groin strain I have), there is no magic bullet. All the linaments and ibuprofens in the world don't hold a candle to a trip to your doctor and good old fashioned RICE; Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
Doctor- I hate going to the doctor. However there are times when the doctor is necessary. If you have an injury that is causing severe pain and/or soreness, it's time to get some x-rays and determine the cause of the problem. (I am the worst at taking my own advice). Maybe you think your ankle is sprained, but x-rays will tell you if there is a stress fracture.
Rest- Rest. Rest! Rest does not mean "I'm just going to yoga class for a stretch." Rest does not mean, "I'll just go for an easy run." Rest does not mean a "light roll" in BJJ class. Rest means Rest. The most activity you should do is housecleaning. Resting can difficult, boring, and downright annoying for those of us that love to push the envelope.
Ice- Yes, it's cold. Too bad. 30 minutes of ice on the affected area and not one minute less. Three times daily. Ice reduces swelling. Ice reduces inflammation. Ice is your friend.
Compression- Wrap it up. My adoring husband insisted I wrap my upper leg with a self-adhesive wrap yesterday. I protested. He told me to stop sniveling and explained that compression would support the muscles and tendons, thus giving them a slight break from their usual workload. I relented. Actually I didn't have much choice because he proceeded to wrap my leg for me.
Elevation- Keep your body weight off of the injury! This is difficult for most of us with life priorities, but do the best you can.
Injuries suck, but they are a part of training. If you are taking part in a rigorous regime, or training for a tournament or race, expect to be grounded for a few days during the process. You can train through some minor injuries with the help of wraps and lighter work-outs, but there are times when you need to face the music and get thee to a doctor, a couch, and a bucket of ice.
Think of rest as putting money into a savings account with a high interest rate. Giving your body the appropriate amount of rest time will ensure you are still running at full capacity into your later years. If you any doubt about this, go run a marathon and count the number of 60+ men and women that are passing you at mile 16. Take a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and be humbled as the old guy in class with a black belt reduces you to a crumpled pretzel in seconds.
That will be all for now, train well!