Whether someone is a recreational or elite athlete or just a regular person with interest in improving fitness, he or she must be able to read the signs of pain being registered on the body.
A lot of times people or athletes choose to ignore or misunderstand the signs or signals that the body gives. They tend to neglect warm-up or cool down before or after exercise or avoid recovering their bodies correctly after strenuous exercise programs. This happens due to ignorance or due to time constraints placed on everyday lives.
A self-report made by an elite Australian triathlete made me write this article.
Rebekah Keat is a world class Australian female triathlete that has been racing triathlons at the elite level since her junior years with over seventeen years in the sport. Demonstrating incredible form in 2013, she achieved a hat-trick of 70.3 wins in a row – Canberra, Shepparton and Austin.
Bek as a junior suffered from two stress fractures that made her learn when to stop and when to not push through. In addition to this she suffered multiple muscle strains on her calves despite her exceptional athletic physique.
There is a distinctive difference between pain from just hard working muscles and injury pain. Athletes and high achievers tend to ignore signals such as tight muscles and painful bones. When they feel pain the first thing that comes into an athlete’s mind is to push through it. Running on a sore bone over and over again can cause injuries such as periostitis or even worse stress fractures.
Bek after two serious stress fractures luckily she learnt her lesson and have been fortunate to have no more since 2002.
Muscular injuries can be huge setbacks in both amateur and elite athletes. Bek was no different, not being fully aware of the warning signs of a strain, she pushed through a tight calf muscle leading the Aussie long course champs in 2008. Half way into the run, bang I felt a large flick and tore my calf muscle. Having to pull out whilst leading wasn’t fun! The disappointing thing was I ignored my bodies warning signs, the day before it felt like I had been kicked in the calf and I could feel a grabbing type of pain whilst waking but chose to ignore it!
Muscle strains in the soleus or gastrocnemius muscle are tough, once you have done it, you are more prone to a weakness in the particular injured area. Scar tissue develops and so does a weak spot in that area. This becomes an issue if you are not aware of warning signs like tightness tenderness and knots in the muscle.
After consulting with a physio she finally realized that the cause was due to the scar tissue from previous tares. The initial injury was due to bad biomechanics, muscle tightness caused by slight pronation and weak stabilizers including gluteus. Upon foot landing she was putting more strain on the lateral side of her calves. The spot or scar tissue, where the muscle fibers are not aligned correctly and aren’t symmetrical, is what was causing the continual strains or tares.
) Listen to your bodies warming signs!
If you have muscle tightness to the point where there is discomfort walking or you feel muscle knots don’t run!
Always treat the muscle tightness or knots before running any quality or speed run sessions especially. Start with a very slow easy jog on even surface instead of a quality run for your first run back ,don push it!
Treatments such as acupuncture, graston, mio facial release and ART are all great techniques for muscle tightness or issues.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT, If you have a gut feeling that the tightness is more than just usual training tightness, take 3/4 days off running. Your better to take 3/4 days off than tare something and have to take 4-6 weeks off running!
- Train in different terrains, not letting the legs get lazy makes the proprioceptors of the leg more active and better prepared act upon the reactions forces crossing the leg.
- Appropriate warm-up and cool-down is essential!!
- Recover appropriately after hard sessions. Try and avoid doing consecutively hard sessions and find ways to relax both the body and mind. Ice baths, sports massage, trigger point therapy and stretching are some of the numerous actions you can take to prevent injuries.
- Wear good shoes that support your running style. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy the heaviest most supportive shoes.
- Maintain a good strength conditioning program, one that works on all the stabilizers that help support our big muscles.
- Functional training, power yoga classes work our stabilizers and transverse abdominals or core, this keeps the body strong and balanced to be able to handle increased workloads!