How to heal effectively

I realize the title is vague as obviously a part of this is dependent on the specific injury.  But what I am referring to is your mindset and the factors outside of the physical healing that may be affecting your ability to heal  These factors also likely had a part in leading you to the injured state.

I think the first thing that is important to remember is you are not the first person to be injured… this is part of the process.  My husband gave me some tough love when I was first struggling with my injury.  And said ‘if you want to push yourself in training this is the contract you sign, sometimes you may go too far and get hurt’.  It happens, it happens to the pros, the sub elites and the recreational but this is because we are all trying to be our best selves which I think is pretty DAMN special.  Give yourself a day or so to be upset, trust me I get it, it sucks and I shed many tears when I first got injured!  But I just want you to take a deep breath, it is going to be okay.  It is okay to be upset but you cannot dwell on it, you’re injured; now do something about it.  Your number one goal should be doing whatever is best for the injury.  And as a practitioner who has also been injured I can understand how frustrating it can be on both sides.  It is hard to predict exactly what is best for the injury and ultimately depends on your body’s response.  I know you want to be told exactly what you can do and what the plan is but with injuries it is inevitably a bit more see how it goes.  Remember as I mentioned in my other blog post ( stress plays a big role as well so it may be something that needs to be addressed.

If you are able to it may be beneficial to get away from it all.  Whatever that means to you; it could be a weekend getaway, a social media detox, hanging out with non running friends etc.  Sometimes it can be difficult when it feels like it is all every one is talking about.  And with the era of social media it can be overwhelming when you open instagram and see everyone else crushing their goals and you are left in the pool.

For me the big game changer was when my coach told me I had to change my mindset from ‘training’ to ‘healing’.  Think about that for a moment.  We are so locked in when we are training and it is really hard to come out of that.  But it is definitely a different mindset to heal.  It is important to also be mindful of how you are talking to yourself.  I was really frustrated at my body at my body when this first happened but again I had to adjust this mindset.

When this first happened I immediately grasped on to cross training and was in the pool and on the bike like a maniac.  But I found I also needed to shift my cross training approach.  For at least a week I pool ran for 60mins max and approached it as enjoying moving versus training.  It honestly made me feel way less pain (*obviously things were continuing to heal so that helped too).  But my overall experience of it was a lot more enjoyable this way.  It allowed me to take the stress of training off of myself and now that energy could be focused on healing the injury.

The other thing is that if it is inevitable that you are going to miss the goal race then take some actual time OFF.  It sucks when the season does not end in a cumulative celebration (*race) but that does not mean you did not work hard in training.  And remember those gains were still made whether you have a PB to showcase it or now.  But you still need to take that recovery period that you typically would post race.  I think this is important both physically but also mentally.  I would suggest at least one week with nothing no cross training, but you have to embrace it you cannot just do this begrudgingly.  When it was obvious I was not going to make it to my goal race I gave myself a weekend to ‘not be an athlete’ we went to my in-laws and I indulged and did not think twice about it.   I also took another week completely off with no activity.  I know full rest is difficult for most runners to swallow but it is an important part of training.

If you are like me and have been running for a long time it is also important to figure out what the contributing factors are to the injury.  If you are forced with some time off running you may as well make as much use out of it.  I am working with my chiro Dr. Kris Sheppard to try to get my L high hamstring tendinopathy healed which has been an issue for almost 3 years now.  And has likely contributed to many of the issues I have had in the last few years.  Remember that sometimes the current injuries is just a side effect of other more long standing issues and movement adaptations.  And if there is one thing running will do, it will bring out your weaknesses and your issues.

Another thing I am working on is going back to basics.  That means drills, drills and more drills.  And not just doing them to check them off a list but doing them with intent paying specific attention to the movement patterns.  So when I am back on the ground running it will be my best running yet.

It is one thing to have the injury heal and the pain to go away but ultimately I think the goal should be to come back stronger and better than I was before.  As to try to avoid these issues in the future.  Obviously there is nothing out there that can guarantee injuries will not happen as their are many factors involved but it is important we address what we can.

Lastly I think taking some time to reflect on the season is important in regards to training and other factors.  For me looking at my training and the critical point when this injury happened has been important.  But also looking in to my fueling and how I could improve there as well.  I hope in the future I can recognize times of increased stress and adjust my training appropriately in order to try to avoid things like this happening in the future.  I want to be able to allow myself to listen to what my body really needs versus being so caught up in ‘the plan’.  I have followed many plans so if I start adjusting things based on what my body is telling me it needs I think it can only be beneficial. (*fingers crossed I can put this in to action).

Well I thought this was going to be a short and sweet blog but as it turns out I had a lot more to say about this than I anticipated.  I hope you have found it helpful because it has certainly been helpful for me to sit down and think about it.

Take a deep breath, it is going to be okay and happy healing!

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