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First Aid For Injuries

December 14, 2007 - Erik Brown
As long as it has been since my last post, you might be wondering if I’ve been suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. No such luck for you! I was merely having a busy stretch at work coupled with a lazy streak.
I’m happy to report that I made a relatively uneventful return to the ranks of the running on Saturday morning. My two week break apparently was sufficient to let my pulled calf muscle heal, which brings me to the topic of this post – how to deal with an injury.
First, a disclaimer – I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I haven’t stayed in a Holiday Inn Express lately. If you’re experiencing severe pain, swelling, bruising, etc., you might want to engage the services of a medical professional. 
Second, a thank you – to Marcy Chichester, ATC, at Endurance Athletics – the expert source for most of the information in today’s post. Not only has Marcy helped fit my family with running shoes and apparel since their store on Logan Boulevard in Lakemont opened several years ago, but as a certified trainer she was extremely helpful in getting me through a nasty muscle tear in time to do a marathon I had been preparing for.
Cutting to the chase now…as soon as you realize you’re injured, STOP running! As I noted in my last post, if the pain you’re feeling causes you to limp, or alter your stride, etc. you need to stop running immediately. If it isn’t too severe, you can try a stretch that targets the muscle(s) giving you trouble. If that doesn’t help, keep reading.
In the first 24 to 48 hours after your injury occurs, cold packs are the treatment of choice. Place a zip-lock bag full of ice on the injured area for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. If that’s just too darn cold, you can wrap the bag in a dish towel to make it a little more comfortable, albeit a little less effective. Remove the ice bag for 30 minutes, and then re-apply it. Repeat the 20 to 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off cycle as often as your schedule will permit. I also take proper dose(s) of Ibuprofen, but that’s up to you.
IMPORTANT – don’t leave the ice on the injured area for more than 30 minutes at a time. There are two reasons why this is important. You can do damage to the tissue if you leave the ice on too long, and you can actually reverse the therapeutic benefit you got from the ice.
36 to 48 hours after your injury, you will want to switch from cold only to alternating cold and hot packs every 3 minutes. In other words, place the ice bag on the injured area for 3 minutes, and then replace the ice bag with a hot pack – a washcloth soaked in hot water might work nicely. Repeat this cold, hot, cold, hot sequence five times.
Give yourself time to heal. Depending on your age and the severity of your injury, you might need to take anywhere from a week to a couple of months to really heal. During that time you might try some other form of exercise to keep your sanity. Swimming is often a good choice. Walking, weightlifting, or cycling might also work for you as long as they don’t aggravate the injury you are trying to recover from.
When you think you’re ready to begin running again, take it easy! Do plenty of stretching for a couple of days leading up to that first run. Start slowly and don’t try to go right back to the mileage you were doing immediately before the injury. Above all, listen to your body. It’s best if you listen when your body is whispering to you. Don’t wait until it begins screaming. Good luck!

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