“As sure as the sun coming up tomorrow, if you are pushing the envelope with your training, you are likely to be, have been or are injured.”
It is unfortunate, but a fact. When you push yourself, you run a high risk of becoming injured. All that you can hope for is that you take all the appropriate precautions and stay as healthy as possible while you prepare for an event. Mind you; I am no physician, but I have seen my share of injuries both my own and those of our many clients. As a matter of fact, the majority of our clientele come to us because they are injured and this is the principal reason for this article. We know that there is nothing worse than investing months of hard training in preparation for an event only to become sidelined with a training specific injury.
Why do they come to us you might ask, if we are not medical professionals? The answer is simple. They come to us because we major in the act of avoiding injury. And in the event that injury develops, we teach people how to correct the problem that has caused the injury to manifest. On the other hand, a medical professional is trained to treat the problem, not the cause.
If you are chronically injured (meaning you face some low-grade pain while training and racing) it is time to investigate the cause. If your injury is acute (meaning that your pain is well beyond discomfort), to continue without medical intervention, you are placing yourself at great risk and potentially surgical intervention to repair what you have damaged.
We have honed our focus on running for a few very good reasons. Almost all recreational sports require some running. From athletes trying to improve on their 40 yard dash to ultra-marathoners, the culprits to injury share many similarities.
That being said; there are some standard rules regarding over-training that should be respected.
- Do not take on too much too soon. If you are a novice runner, for example, it is wise to focus on good form and meager consistent mileage as your body learns to adapt to the new stress that you are exposing it to. I like to employ heart rate as a governor to keep intensity in check.
- Much over looked, yet deserving of attention, is hydration strategies. Are you being careful to ensure that you are properly hydrated? Exercise science has shown us that water alone is not enough. Taking in a quality sports drink while we sweat replaces the minerals lost that are critical to fluid muscular contractions. Any imbalance in muscular recruitment is liable to place overload on working muscles and result in strain or tearing.
Baring these issues, there is also the way in which we move. Poor running form and poor posture on the bike are at the root of most complaints we hear. This is why we invest so much time in running clinics and bike fit. Yet, even after we impose corrections, being able to continue training when some of the damage is already done, is tricky business.
Our favorite solution is to employ taping strategies. Our tape of choice is Rock Tape. The generic brands of this tape kinesio tape, has been used by physical therapist for years. This tape came to prominence during the past summer Olympics, seen applied to the girls’ beach volley ball players.
With the proper application, Rock Tape has proven to control and prevent injury and improve postural strain. This is accomplished by:
- Stimulating blood flow, lymph and inflammation drainage
- Stimulate sensory receptors on skin to reinforce neuro-fascial feedback (afferent information)
- Enhancing muscle “snap back” (providing dynamic support)
I am going to provide a simple step by step approach in dealing with common areas of distress and highly recommend that while you are training and experiencing any of these problems, you give these techniques a try. I want to be clear; these techniques are not to be applied instead of determining the root of the problem. Once you are making the appropriate adjustments to running technique or cycling fit these techniques will go a long way in assisting in the mending process.
Prep: You should always begin by cleaning the area of skin where you intend to apply the tape. The idea is to remove the natural oils from the skin, lotion, etc., so that the tape can adhere more effectively. When cutting the tape, always round the edges to minimize fraying. This will help to keep the application in place for as many as 3-5 days. You can shower with the tape on, just dab dry rather than rub over the tape.
There are essentially three steps to the application, engaging the area to be treated, stabilizing and adding a decompression to the crucial area. You should not feel a tightness
STEP #1: Engagement/Pre-Load
A pre-stretch of the area that the tape is to be applied helps to engage the receptors and pre-load the elastic quality of the associated musculature, ligaments and tendons.
STEP #2: apply a Stabilization strip
Apply a base layer which stimulates the skins mechanoreceptors which helps to decreases pain signals and supports the local joint via what is referred to as the “snap back phenomenon” (Recoil Effect). Improving the recoil (proprioception) has shown to enhance recovery.
STEP #3: Decompression
Then apply a “lifting/decompression” strip over the region that is inflamed to increase blood flow, decreases congestion/edema, and add extra stimulation to local mechanoreceptors.
I have provided you with two snap shots of the most common problem areas for runners and cyclists. For more detailed instruction, I suggest visiting www.rocktape.com they have a variety of video tutorials on taping techniques.
As I stated earlier, I am not a medical professional. To be honest, most medical professionals that treat these injuries, would recommend that you either stop running until the pain subsides or send you to be treated by a physical therapist who will help you out of the pain phase very nicely. But in the absence of corrections to the problems that create these injuries, you are likely to be revisiting these people sometime soon with a reoccurring injury.
So, the take away information is this; if adding mileage appropriately to your training still presents you with pain, something is wrong. To ignore the pain that is signaling you to this fact is a bad idea. The first step to solving this problem is to identify the faults in your mechanics.
Now more than ever, there are coaches available that can point these faults out for you and put you on the correct path, then while you are on the mend, these taping strategies will surprise you with how effective they can be.