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One thing I know about injuries

Written by Fiona February 11 2010

Something that one of my triathlon pals once said about Amateur Athletes and injuries has stayed with me. While most of the general public will happily take the advice of their doctor to completely stop exercise (seeing it as an excuse to lie on the couch and watch the TV for months) so as to allow the body to recover from an injury, whether to the foot, calf, knee, hamstring, glute muscle or whatever, in contrast the Amateur Athlete will look aghast at such a suggestion and immediately and vehemently question the merits of a recovery period of anything more than a few days.

I have so often seen this complete lack of ability to take the advice of doctors, and physios or podiatrists come to that. In fact being told to rest and recover for the good of your body seems simply to act like a red rag to the Amateur Athlete.

So the injured AA tries to train through the pain, or gives it a couple of days before heading out for a “light” 10-mile run or eases their pace from sprint to just-less-than-Kelly-Holmes-style-speed.

The strangest thing is that most AAs will also tell you that they know all about listening to their bodies and being “in the know” about their physiques. But when it comes to injury and recovery they just don’t seem to know when to stop.

I know this, too, because I’ve been there myself trying to keep going through the pain of an injury. In truth I trained through a hamstring pull for months in the run up to the Loch Ness Marathon. I just wouldn’t give in – but then with only six weeks to go to the big day I was forced to seek advice from a (costly) physio, a masseur and a coach. I was told to go only short runs and train on my bike instead. I’m still convinced that I could have gone sub 3.30 (instead of 3.35) if only I’d taken a recovery break at the time of injury. I’ll never know though will I?

Currently I know of at least three good friends who are training through an injury. They just can’t stop themselves!

I think a major part of the problem is the addiction to exercise that sees the AA putting on their blinkers the minute they feel a pull in their calf or a pain in their hamstring. They’ll blame their trainers, their cadence, the tilt of a pavement they were running on, last night’s glass of wine. Whatever. But few actually address an insistent injury until they have trained on it for too long or too hard.

And I know from experience how difficult it is to give up the daily fix of running. But I also know how slow it can be to recover from an injury when you continue to push yourself through the pain.

So next time you feel the first twinge of an injury, stop the exercise. Rest up for a while (and longer than a day!) and seek the advice of a physio, sports masseur or podiatrist. It pays to get to the root of the problem before the problem eventually roots you.

You know who you are you AA super heroes!

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