Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Psychology of Recovery From Injuries
Injuries are inevitable. For any runner who as been at it long enough, becoming injured is only a matter of time. "How can I eliminate the likelihood of injury?", you ask. There is only one answer that can't fail: "Quit running!"
But the desire to run is infectious, and when your running is threatened because of injury, the desire becomes magnified. After all, humans have always had cravings for things they can have, but have been known to kill for those things they can't have. And when running is not in a runner's itinerary, the emotional controversy that takes place rock's the senses. "I've just got to run....".
Now, we all know, for every injury out there, there are inner-circle "surgeons general" who quickly and confidently diagnose the condition, outlining the do's and don'ts they'd recommend. From your neighbor to your brother-in-law to your therapist and spouse, everyone's an authority. The runner continues to hear all of these priceless (worthless?) recommendations, but still has to deal with that little voice in the back of the mind screaming to run. "Come on. Don't be a baby. Run through the pain. If it hurts, just stop. What do they know anyways? None of them even run!"
Six weeks of mild running (which the runner will tell you was total rest), and the injury is still there. More relatives and fellow employees have joined the list of "specialists" voicing their opinion and the hope for a future on the roads now seems near impossible. But before all hope is gone, STOP and LISTEN! There is a way. There are simple means which will get you back. Just as nature provides guidelines to live by, nature also provides guidelines to heal by. You just have to Follow The Rules! (that little clause in the contract we never see). Now they may sound simple, but the difficult part comes in applying them.
Ask yourself clearly - "What is my objective?". The answer, for most, is generally the same and pretty simple. "To get from point A (injured) to point B (able to run safely) as fast and inexpensively as possible".
Now, the most common reason runner's fail at the above rule is because they try to answer 2 objectives at once. They want to do as stated above, point A to point B, but they also want to run everyday to not lose their conditioning. "But, I go crazy if I don't run". Don't worry, that's only mental and you'll learn to get over it.
Keep in mind, nature usually doesn't give us the opportunity to have two wishes at the same time. If you want two, you usually end up without any. (You can't run comfortably or as much as you want, and you don't heal). This is when you start looking to pay money to that great specialist from afar. Believe me, keep your money. Most injuries are cumulative and no specialist can do any more than you can do, if you are disciplined.
At this time, sit down and re-define your goals. You may need to forget the marathon you've been training for. You may need to give up that "favorite" race this year if your body is not healthy. Nature doesn't care about your wants, so don't act totally robotic with your schedule. The only thing that stays the same is that everything is always changing. You may need to change your wish list to be more realistic.
Decide what you need to do to get from point A to point B the quickest and most cost effective. Generally, allowing the injured area the necessary time to heal is a good place to start. This doesn't mean minimal running or cross training, this means quality healing time. Again, keep in mind, the more you use an injured area, the longer the healing time takes. It is far wiser to do it right the first time, if your true objective is to get back to running pain free and safely. Ice, heat, massage (The Stick®) , rest, anti-inflammatories (Rehab-Plus), etc. are some of the complements you should use.
Understand, this is not supposed to be fun. Runners say, "This isn't what I want to do, I want to run". Hey, dying isn't fun either, but it happens. Show an ounce of discipline and intelligence. Quit whining. Shift your mindset during this period. As long as you pressure yourself mentally, your only setting yourself up to come back too soon. Relax and do something you never have time to do because of your running. Soon enough, you'll be back, so don't drive yourself crazy.
The lack of pain and swelling does not mean an injury is totally healed. Read that sentence again. Don't "attack" the first day you feel good. The longer you have had to lay off, the slower your comeback should be. Be willing to come back slowly enough. Write the word "RELAPSE" all around the house and office. Imagine going back to square one and starting over. Remember, do it right the first time.
Last but not least, keep in mind that being frustrated, yelling or screaming or even whining or complaining is wasted energy. As I said in the beginning, if you run, you will be injured. Save the theatrics. Immediately alter your mindset and go into the healing mode. Ask yourself, "What do I have to do to get back to running the quickest?". I'll guarantee you the answer does not include kicking the dog or yelling at your spouse. Conserve your energy for something worthwhile and have the discipline to correct the condition. It's really not that big a deal.
Now, once you've done the above, and you're still not better, look for the specialist who can help. But don't be weak in your discipline and think that if you pay money you'll get some magical cure. Somewhere along the way, you have to pay the price. These guidelines, hopefully, will keep you from paying double. Good luck.