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This post is sponsored by AXA PPP healthcare.
Have you ever had a sports injury?
I have only had two brief experiences with injury: the first was a few days after my first half marathon in 2009 when I was struck down with what I could only ascertain was runner's knee. It lasted about a week and I wasn't able to run or walk very well either - for someone who was used to getting everywhere under her own steam this was frustrating to say the least! My friend the GP taught me an exercise which I still do now, and three years, one marathon and four half marathons (plus all the training!) later, I haven't had runner's knee since. The second was a freak injury that I got after walking in bad shoes the day before the 10k Tom and I ran together last year. I was able to do the race the next day, it was literally a 24 hour thing....but those 24 hours were very stressful!
I've heard so many stories of fellow athletes getting injured and being out of action for months at a time....and my heart has just broken for them. I can't imagine how hard it must be to not be able to do something you love doing and when you're an energetic person used to living a very active life it must be so frustrating! I know I've been very lucky but I also think it's down to these five things that I've actively done since long distance running has become a huge part of my life:
1. Always warm up.
Start your runs at warm up pace - I sometimes find this hard and strike out a bit early, but I know what warm up pace feels like and force my body back to that rhythm for the first few songs on the iPod. Save the power songs for later in the run! Also, don't stretch at the start of the run, stretch once you've warmed up.
2. Take three rest days a week.
I train four days a week, with a rest day in between except Sunday and Monday. This works for me, allows me to have a drink on Friday nights (!) and Sunday is always a long run and Monday is a speed/intervals session. On rest days I do yoga (see point 4).
3. Learn how to do pistol (one legged) squats.
These (or my version!) helped me recover from runner's knee and regular practice of them has ensured it has stayed away!
4. Do yoga.
Yoga is the most perfect compliment to running I can think of. It gets all those sore muscles nicely stretched out!
5. Listen to your body.
It's important to get to know your own body, which will come with time and experience, the longer you spend in your sport. You will get to know the difference between discomfort because you are pushing yourself and pain because something is wrong.
If you ever are injured, it's important to get it managed by a professional ASAP, particularly if you want to have a speedy recovery. AXA PPP healthcare are having another of their excellent expert chats this Thursday to offer help and advice to people of all fitness levels on the prevention and treatment of sport injuries, e.g. shin splints, sore knees, aching joints, cartilage tears. If you have any burning questions about injuries, here's your chance!
The expert web discussion will take place on Thursday 23 August from 3pm-5pm UK time, here. It's completely free and you can join in live on the day or ask your questions beforehand on Facebook and Twitter.
Health expert and GP Dr Alasdair Wright will be available to answer questions on sports injuries. Dr Wright has a special interest in health and fitness having also been a national team tennis player and coach.
You can also catch up on the questions and answers after the live chat and check out many healthy living guides in the be healthy section of the AXA PPP website, including warm up guides and and this guide on sports injuries.
I have two questions for the expert, the first on behalf of my keen-to-run-again husband, is: what is the best way to avoid shin splints? And I personally would like to know what other exercises can I do to strengthen my knees as occasionally, despite my regular pistol squats and yoga, I get a few niggles. Is it a question of improving my running technique, perhaps?
What about you? Any tales of injury and recovery to tell? :)