Damn it Jiminy. Why are you always right?
(Disclaimer – this post was written a while ago and got lost in the recesses of my drafts folder. After following the plan below it was determined that some time with my favorite PT was necessary. I’m all better now!)
While out on my long run last Saturday I felt a nagging discomfort in my calf. I didn’t think much of it other than, “I should have rolled that out a little more.” One with my run I went. Then about 2.5 miles into my 10 the pain became more insistent. So I stopped, stretched it out and continued on. When that same thing happened again about a mile later I thought, “Ok I’ll stretch this out and then maybe I should turn around and head back. I won’t get my 10 but better safe than sorry.”
I should have turned around, but I didn’t. Instead I switched over to intervals. Then at 4 miles I thought, “Now would be a good time to turn around.” But I didn’t. Instead I pushed through 5.5 miles and then it happened. The sharp pain, a gasp, and a couple of skip steps. I should have listened to my little internal Jiminy Cricket. He was right.
Runners are notorious for ignoring the golden R.I.C.E. rules and returning to running without properly giving their injuries a chance to heal. Rest and Rehab is now my mantra for the next week… Sigh. But I’ll do it. I’ve ridden the chronic injury, re-injury train and it’s no fun.
So you might be wondering what R.I.C.E. stands for in simple terms it means recovery and a return to running much faster and consistently but literally its:
R – Rest
As you already know, this is the hardest rule for runners to follow. We are, by our very nature, super active, mobile people. Sitting, resting, and “taking it easy” are crazy difficult instructions. Forget skipping a run… you must be crazy.
The thing is, without proper rest, with or without injury, you’re not giving you body the chance to become stronger, faster, more responsive, or just plain healed. So sit your booty down!
I – Ice
Ice/icing can be critical within the first 48-72 hours after injury. Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the area that hurts. Make sure you put a layer in between your skin and the ice pack – a towel, ace bandage. or compression sleeve/sock works well!
C – Compression
Some people recommend compression after icing. Depending on the injury, like mine in my calf, I prefer compression while icing and after. Compression like icing, reduces inflammation and increases blood flow to the affected area. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy like one of those neoprene sleeves either. I find a good old fashioned ace bandage or my CEP compression socks work perfectly fine.
E – Elevation
Ideally, this means elevating the injured area above your heart. So settle in on the couch, pull up Netflix and settle in. You’ll thank me in the long run. (Punny, I know.)
Following these four simple steps are often all that’s needed to help runners recover from common fatigues and non-serious injuries. However, if you do this routine a few times and don’t see improvement after a few days then I would definitely recommend talking with your doctor or physical therapist about your injury. The sooner you get it checked out the better you’ll be!
As always, listen to your body and don’t ignore it if you start to hear that little Jiminy in your ear telling you to ease up. He’s usually a pretty smart little guy.