AT SOME POINT, YOU’RE LIKELY TO PICK UP ONE OR TWO INJURIES DURING TRAINING. AVOID SERIOUS SETBACKS BY READING THE SIGNS.
No matter how fit you are, injuries are a common by-product of the stress placed on the body by intense physical activity. Knowledge of first aid is likely to come in handy when you’re out on a run, where blisters, sprains, and even broken bones can occur. It’s also important to be aware of your body’s limits in order to avoid minor injuries that may be less obvious, but can develop into long-term problems.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I INJURE MYSELF?
We build muscle through exercise, with the stress of a workout causing minute tears in the tissue. The muscle grows stronger as it repairs itself. An injury occurs when a part of the body is stressed so much it is no longer able to function normally. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong; it’s important to listen to the messages your body is sending you. If you ignore them, the injury is likely to worsen.
WHAT KIND OF INJURIES MIGHT I SUSTAIN?
Injuries can be divided into two types: acute, or sudden onset, and chronic, or long-term. Acute injuries result from a specific event, or trauma, and can be minor, for example blisters, or more serious, like a torn ligament. Chronic, or “overuse,” injuries result from wear and tear, for example Achilles tendinopathy (see p.182), and develop over an extended period of time. In either case, it’s essential to identify the injury and find out what treatment is needed.
HOW DO I DEAL WITH AN ACUTE INJURY?
Sharp pain is likely to accompany an acute injury. Injuries to soft tissue, such as muscles, tendons (bands of tissue that attach muscles to bones), and ligaments (bands of tissue that support joints), are also accompanied by swelling as a result of internal bleeding from ruptured blood vessels (bruising). Stop your training and apply the RICE procedure, opposite.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF SOMEONE BREAKS A LEG?
If a person is in significant pain, movement increases the pain, and/or he or she cannot bear weight on the injured leg, a bone may be broken. Don’t attempt to move or straighten the person’s leg. Support the joints above and below the injury by hand, and place rolled clothes on either side to immobilize it. Call an ambulance and continue the support until help arrives.
HOW DO I DEAL WITH A CHRONIC INJURY?
The majority of injuries and conditions experienced by runners in training for a marathon are overuse injuries caused by running many miles and pounding on hard surfaces. Chronic injury often results in a dull, nagging pain. If you suspect you have any of the muscle or joint conditions described on the following pages, stop training, apply RICE treatment, and consult a medical professional.
HOW DO I GET BACK TO RUNNING AFTER AN INJURY?
Returning to running before an injury has healed completely will lead to recurrence, or worsen the injury. Listen to your physician or physical therapist. Follow any exercises you have been given and reapply load gradually. After a minor injury, aim to bear weight and walk with the correct technique within two or three days; serious injury will take much longer. Try low-impact exercise like swimming to maintain your fitness until you can run. When you start running training again, build up slowly.
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