So, it’s been three weeks since my last post! I must apologize! I’ll blame it on laziness, the holidays, and my fantasy football team making the playoffs! Running in the holidays is just plain tough, especially if you travel. The week of Thanksgiving I ran Sunday, Monday, & Friday! That is pitiful! The following Monday, I was out on a faster than normal “jog” with Strand. He made me sprint across Highway 31 as traffic was approaching rapidly. It was about the second stride, my right calf cramped. I ran the rest of the 6 mile run with a limp. This calf cramping thing is a very familiar pain that has plagued my running for the past 4 years. It pops up on me from time to time, specifically after inconsistent weeks and unplanned increases in mileage. It kept me from running the Nashville Half last year! There went another $100!!!!
I went for a 5 miler on Tuesday morning, just to test out the calf. It cramped up on me around mile 2, but I continued on slowly and with a the same limp. I got so frustrated during the run thinking about having to take a couple weeks off and possibly missing Mercedes! I then calmed myself and started thinking back to the old college days of running through injuries. “Was I just a lot tougher back then? Is it because I’m 35 pounds heavier?” all went through my mind. Then, EUREKA!!! The training room!! That’s it!! The training room had all these cool gadgets like heating pads, stem machines, and my personal favorite, the ice tub! Oh the days of the ice tub! After every run, we’d fill the tub up with water and a bunch of ice to get the water temperature down to 40 degrees and hop in!! The first 2 minutes was BRUTAL!! The training room was also staffed with great athletic trainers who would listen to us moan and groan about our aches and pains and help us fix them. All things I took for granted!! My plan, use what I learned from the visits to the training room and help myself run through this nagging pain.
All that being said and before I go any further, I DO NOT RECOMMEND RUNNING THROUGH INJURIES!! My recommendation is to listen to your body. If you develop pain caused by running, it is an indication from your body that something is wrong. If it’s severe pain, your body is most likely telling you to take some time off.
Now, back to the plan! In order to run through and help heal a nagging pain, you have to do all those things you really, REALLY don’t want to do! My pain is a strained Soleus. How do you heal strained muscles? Stretching, icing, heat, massage, and strength. In fact, those things I just mentioned will help with quite a few running pains and injuries! Since we don’t have a training room, here’s what you can do. 1. Buy a stick or a foam roller. You can use both to help massage calves, thighs, IT bands, feet, and hamstrings. 2. Buy some of those little ice bags designed to use in coolers and some Dixie cups. You can cover the ice bags with a zip lock (to protect your skin) and use an ace bandage to wrap and hold them on the “area of interest”. You can fill the Dixie cups with water, freeze them, peel the paper away about half way down and use them for ice massage. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ICE, it works best if you can ice as soon as you finish running!! . 3. STRETCH!! That’s all I’ve got for number 3. 4. Get a heating pad. If you can use the heating pad before you head out for a run, it helps loosen up the muscle basically like doing a warm up. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT HEAT! Only heat before activity. If the injured muscle or tendon is inflamed after running, using heat will only make the inflammation worse. 5. Strengthening is the toughest! It’s hard to know what to do! The good thing, you don’t need a Bowflex in the basement! For lower leg pains and injuries, my favorite strength exercises are to stand on one foot while brushing your teeth, wrap an ankle weight around your forefoot and draw ABC’s with you toes, and towel crunches. (Call Jeff at 870-5644 for explanations of these exercises and suggestions of more!)
My routine has been the same for a couple weeks now. I use the Stick before and after every run to help loosen and warm up the muscle. I try to ice as soon as I finish, but that’s hard sometimes. So, at night while I’m setting my fantasy football team line up, I’ll use the Stick to massage and then ice. I don’t do the strength stuff as much as I should, but when I do, I’ll at least stand on one foot while I brush my teeth. It’s just fun! Try it! The good thing, I haven’t missed a day!! I did have to stop to walk a little one day, but that’s it! Keep your fingers crossed!!