Recovery From Injury: Getting Healthy & Staying There

Injuries are an unfortunate part of many a runner’s life. I had my first serious injury on February 15 when I took a terrible fall on the ice and badly sprained my right ankle. Thankfully being a massage therapist gave me some wonderful insights on what to do to speed up my body’s natural healing process. Beyond the normal RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) I did plenty of stretching of the muscles that cross the ankle joint to ensure that I maintain full range of motion of my foot – essential for that final kick at the end of a race! It hurt like heck, hence more ice. Strengthen the muscles that cross the ankle to help provide more stability to the torn tissue. Also I did a lot of water running where I was in the pool and running laps. The water helped take the pressure off my ankle and the running motion allowed me to re-educate the proprioceptors in my ankle on the proper movements and necessary balance to handle my return to outdoor running. The final thing that is crucial to full recovery from an ankle sprain is to work on proprioception or balance on land. Do this by standing on one foot – the one with the sprain. Work up to being able to stand on the affected ankle while bending and straightening your knee. Then add movements to your free leg by swinging it back and forth across your body and out in front and back. All these movements challenge your body to maintain balance from many different angles which is exactly what a runner needs to make quick, often unconscious, foot adjustments when running. All of this will help you prevent re-spraining your ankle and get you back to race form as quickly as possible. In my case I was able to return to outdoor running in 16 days. In another 3 weeks I competed and completed the ever daunting 30km Around The Bay Roadrace in Hamilton Ontario on March 24 in 2:51:04.

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Epilogue: Because of the compromise to my ankle I ended up developing shin splints in late April. I quickly remedied that by reducing my running for 1 week and doing this nifty toe tapping exercise I found online:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66r_kWvgwUo

In another month I would run the Ottawa Marathon – known as Canada’s National Championships – in a time of 3:57:56.

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