Dealing With Injury

Today marks exactly three months and one day since I started exercising regularly. According to Nike+ I’ve covered 189km in 40 runs over about 22.5 hours. Throw in a few weight training sessions and its been a productive time. I’ve dropped two sizes, lost over 14 kg (30 lbs) and feel far healthier, stronger and fitter. And today marks my first injury.

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It seems that I’ve strained my left calf while running this morning. I wasn’t pushing hard – I always go easier when increasing my distance – and was coming off a rest day. The surface was stable. As far as I can tell, there was no reason other than I’m not a kid anymore.

What did I do first?

Once I got home, I made up an ice pack, put my leg up and started to try to reduce the inflammation and pain. As I’m on holidays, and was planning to head out, I spent some time standing in the water at the beach. A couple of sessions in the water and some very gentle stretching eased some of the pain and stiffness.

At this stage, while I’m still sore and limited in movement, I’m not too worried as this is my body’s way of protecting me from further damage. Soft tissue injuries go through several stages of recovery before being finally resolved.

If this is a minor strain I suspect I’ll be back to some light running in a week or so. I suspect that the worst case is a three week break from running.

What’s next?

I’m not sure how severe the strain is yet but I’m guessing I’ll be off running for at least a week. One piece of advice about recovering from running injuries suggests engaging in some cross-training and easing back into running with some run/walk sessions. I’m thinking of repeating week one of Couch to 5K.

I’ll be back in weight room in a day or so but will focus on upper body exercises and lay off the squats and deadlifts. I might think about the exercise bike if the pain subsides but not before.

If the pain is still there in a week, I’ll see a doctor and look at other recovery options.

I’m not diving straight into over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. While they may be effective, there are plenty of contra-indications (list of potential ibuprofen side effects) and I’ve always preferred to let my body heal itself, resorting to medications only after giving my body a chance.

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