Running Injuries: Why Are We So Stupid?
by Michael T. Kershaw

Running and fitness enthusiasts will always have injuries, despite the fact that our equipment (i.e. shoes) is getting better all the time. The reality is, enthusiasts will exercise in excess and will not generally stop even though the signs and symptoms of an injury are slapping them in the face.

The reason I know this is that I am one of those stubborn runners that will not stop running until I am forced to stop by the injury. That is problem number one; we feel guilty if we stop exercising before the injury occurs or is severe. In fact it takes a big slap in the face by our injury that says “hey stupid, I gave you a warning but you ignored me and now it’s too late and you are seriously injured.”

Problem number two, is even more severe than problem number one. Problem number two is that even though we know we have an injury and that we can’t run or exercise to the extent we want, we still exercise, just a little less. Now this is one case where all of those people that don’t understand runners (like my father) will offer good advice, don’t run!

It makes no sense at all to run when you have an injury that is exacerbated by running but we all do it. We just run a little less often, far, or intensely. And then what happens after we do this for a while and the injury gets worse or doesn’t get better? We complain about are stubborn injury and how we can’t train properly and that we are out of shape.

Running is like love, it’s blind. We can’t see the forest through the trees. It is obvious, even to runners giving advice to injured runners…….don’t run!

Here is something we runners should try just once to see how well it works:

  • When you feel an unnatural or unusual pain that lasts more than a couple of minutes, stop running and do research to determine if it is a potential injury. Then, nip it in the bud and take care of it quickly.
  • If you are truly injured, do not run at all and focus all of that pent up guilt and energy toward treatment and healing of the injury. I repeat, do not run until you are relatively sure it has healed, then test it and come back slowly.
  • During that treatment time, if you must train, find an exercise regimen that will allow your injury to heal (e.g. swimming, water running, etc.).
  • Finally, use your brain and be a detective to determine how that injury occurred and how you can prevent it in the future. (Hint: it is usually caused by improper mechanics)

It really sounds simple and obvious but I personally don’t know one serious fitness enthusiast or runner that has followed this plan when injured. Invariably, the runner will continue to exercise until the injury is so bad that running is difficult or impossible. This results in setbacks that are ten times as long as they could have been. There is no doubt that if one follows this simple advice, the injury will heal and they will be back on the road in a very short period of time. Seriously, just try it and you will see!

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