Running newbies, this is a quick guide to what to do when something hurts, what will m
ake it worse and what’s going to help you get back into your trainers quicker.
ITS YOUR OWN FAULT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
First thing is first. Unlike some sports, where we can blame team members, bad tackles or failing equipment in running if you get an injury it’s ALL YOUR FAULT! Unless a cyclist with no lights decides to take you down on your nightly run (true story kids) then you’re allowed to blame someone else.
Look in that mirror baby!
Bet you didn’t know dehydration was one of the main causes of ankle sprains did you? You can curse at that curb all you want, but its probably down to the fact you can’t be bothered to carry a water bottle with you.
The First 72 Hours
Pretty much as soon as something snaps, breaks or tears the area gets swollen, hot, red and depending on how bashed around it’s got, bruised.
Now unless you’re superman and have x ray vision, if you pull something deep then you might not see all this (unless you’ve done something pretty hardcore) however sprain your ankle and you’ll get a good demonstration. Like the after effects of a vindaloo, you might not always see it, but you KNOW its there. The body reacts like this to bring antibodies to the area quickly, however inflammation and haematoma (a bruise) are bad as put pressure on already damaged vessels causing pain and further damage.
Some of the sporty types reading this might have heard of PRICED or RICED or the various letter variations of this, whatever anagram
you wish its basically the same. Its the rules how to deal with the initial injury
Protection – stop the injury from getting any worse. Yes runners, if you pull or sprain something this means STOP. If you’re lying in the middle of a motorway get your wounded ass out of danger.
REST – Now I know there are a lot of people out there who will attempt to run through a broken leg, (Manteo Mitchell, I’m looking at you) but of course this will make it worse.
Doing this means more blood is pumped to the injury, increasing bleeds and inflammation and therefore increasing recovery time.
Ice- I’ll go more into hot verses cold therapy later on. But in this stage reaching for the deep heat is the worst thing you can do. Get yourself a bag of frozen peas (or whatever else cold you have in the house) and wrap it in a teatowel to avoid chill burns and ice for 10 mins every 20 minutes.
Compression – Anything tight wrapped around the damaged area will reduce inflammation and help clot any bleeding inside the muscle/ligament. So go on give it a good squeeze 😉
Elevation – Get the offending limb above the level of the rest of your body. This can lead to some amazing contortions, but it also keeps the blood away from the damaged area. The more blood that goes into an area after you’ve damaged it, the more pressure and the more tears etc, like continuing to drive on punctured tyres, they’ll get shredded even more. So get that leg up.
Diagnosis – See a doctor. A 3rd degree ankle sprain can hurt JUST as much as a broken ankle, and slow onset issues such as Tendonosis and Tendonitis almost exactly the same symptoms. Both need completely different treatment and get it wrong and you could at best increase your recovery time, or at worst jeopardise your ability to run at all, so get checked out. And I’m talking someone with an actual medical qualification who has seen your injury, not some dude off a forum or your running partner who ‘reckons they had something similar’. Anybody with a computer can put stuff on the internet, they even gave me a blog.
72 Hours – 6 Weeks
Now I’ve done it myself. I’ve sprained my ankle, stayed off it for three days then gone out for a 10 mile run and wondered why on earth its been screwed all summer. What’s our mantra with injuries runners? Say it with me! ITS ALL YOUR FAULT.
After about 3 days the body has started to get on it and fix whatever you decided to break. It lays down a nice little matrix of fibroblasts and collagen which is about as strong and robust as play doh. This mess of sticky putty needs time to turn into proper cells. This takes time,and stretching, not a beasting on a potholed trail. The good work that the body has done to heal itself will be destroyed and you’ll be back under doctors orders.
How long this stage lasts depends on how badly you hurt yourself. Do the rehabilitation, strengthen your weak areas and build up gradually.
Hot & Cold Therapy – When To Break Out The Deep Heat
Hot does the opposite. This gets the blood flowing to the area, bringing with it a fresh supply of nutrients and oxygen.
If something is INJURED or HURTING then it needs protection from further harm. Enter the icepack, the frozen chips, or the ice bath as a way of reducing the blood flow, inflammation and the pain so it can take the time and heal.
If something is STIFF (no giggles please) or if the injury has mostly healed and you want to get it working again, then you want HEAT!!!!!! Lovely warm gentle heat. This brings oxygen to the area so the muscles can relax or get moving again. Alternating hot and cold also works really well for these issues.
If you suffer from reoccurring sprains, check out this post on proprioception