Injury Prevention Made Practical

I have 33 days to get ready for a 1/2 marathon race that covers 13.1 miles.  I’ll spare you the details of my entire to-do list, but trust me when I say it is less than relaxing.

Yesterday was a “Kick Myself in the Ass” day to do my first run over 10 miles in quite some time.  My usual running buddy, Rushton, tapped out of this 4:30 AM trot for good reason: her husband’s alma mater, Alabama, was in the National Football Championship the night before.  Proceeding solo, I needed this run to assess my fitness level and take the important mental step of reintroducing myself to the pain of endurance running.

I wrote this blog post to provide a tangible example of actions I take to speed up my post-workout recovery and help avoid injury during subsequent runs.  Unfortunately, running injuries are all too common for athletes, young and old.  After my 100-minute run noted above, I was unable to relax on the couch, schedule a spa massage or join friends in a yoga class after lunch, but focused instead on other activities.

After this workout, like many others, I performed the steps described below, grabbed a quick bite to eat on the way to the shower, loved on my wife and children, and shared a bowl of cereal with my son (who insists on drinking any leftover milk) before racing to work.


Healing Within a Hectic Lifestyle

Here’s exactly what I did, in chronological order, to gain the benefits of my workout while reducing the chance of an ensuing injury.  (Time taken to perform each step is noted as such).

Drained My Legs – I elevated my legs on the wall for 3 minutes while pumping my ankles and wiggling my toes to promote waste product drainage. (3 mins)

Pushed Some Fluids – I followed the 50/50 rule while guzzling a water/Gatorade sports drink combo. (2 mins)

Consumed Some Protein and Carbs – I replenished my muscle stores to help the recovery process, adding delicious almond butter to one half of my  whole-grain bagel. (2 mins)

Rolled the Pain Away – I showed some loyalty to my favorite pre- and post-workout rolling routine. (3 mins)

Enjoyed a Quick Stretch – I engaged in a quick (but slow and steady) stretch of my hamstrings, quads, ITBs, calves and hip flexors.  I prefer dedicating more time to this, but it surely makes a difference either way. (4 mins)

Popped Advil & Glucosamine – I took this medication and supplement to help keep my muscles and joins healthy. (30 secs)

Leveraged the Power of Ice – I wrapped my sore calf in an ice bag right before showering to save time. (1 min)

Took a Cold Shower –  I lowered my core body temperature to provide a thermal aid and reduce inflammation, always a good thing.  (4 mins)

Iced with Compression – I wore my 110% calf sleeves with ice inserts to foster recovery during my 30-minute drive to work and while primarily on my feet for the rest of the day. (30 secs)

Total Time Expenditure:  20 minutes (only 1.394% of my day)


The Results

My legs were a bit stiff when I first got out of my car at work, but that quickly subsided after a brisk walk into the stadium.  With the steps taken above, my “healing” started at the conclusion of my run.  Rather than wait for the obvious pain to kick in and deal with a chronic problem, I put my body in a position to optimize its recovery capabilities.

As you can see, none of these steps were too difficult or time-consuming.  As I like to demonstrate through Mike Ryan Fitness, injury prevention and sports medicine are in fact quite simple.

As a large John Wooden quote currently touts on a wall in the Jaguars’ Athletic Training Room:  “Perfection of small makes big things happen.”


Take-Home Point

Stop using your busy schedule as an excuse that hinders your chance to dream big as an athlete. Instead, work your fitness plan into your crazy life as just another part of the workout.  Take it in stride, do the little things to promote recovery after every workout and remember that you can’t put a price on great health.