The Causes of Injury

Hi everyone,

I am afraid this is going to be my second injury related blog is a row (it is now nearly three months since I went for a run…) I will get better and I will get back to running but, predictably, the length of time out is very frustrating! I therefore decided it would be worthwhile to write a blog about why I think I got injured and why my injury has gone on so long. If my thoughts help someone else avoid a long and frustrating injury then great!

First, and I have to admit I was silly here, it is important to take note of niggles. Every runner gets niggles and aches while training, however when you begin to get precisely the same pain every time you run and it persists after running it is probably worth looking at. In my case I began to get a pain in my leg but just ignored it and assumed it would go away. Even when I was limping slightly after runs I assumed it was just tight muscles and if I stretched more it would be OK. It turns out it was tight muscles but that they had begun to ‘stick’ to the bone and that was what was producing the pain. I am now stretching, foam rolling and massaging every day in an attempt to loosen of my muscles which remain very tight three months in. Even once a physio told me it might be stress fracture (this still hasn’t been totally ruled out) I continued to run. I was in a slightly exceptional situation given Varsity cross country was only a couple of weeks away (and if I had my time again I would still chose to race Varsity) but in a normal situation it had become clear I should take a break. In reality I should have stopped running about a month before I did and I am sure that keeping on running on an injury was a factor that led to this prolonged break.No running

In fact, I think the failure to stop earlier may have deeper roots within my injury. Everyone needs a week or two off at some point to recharge and recover. My idea of a summer break was to climb Kilimanjaro and when I got back from my ‘break’ I went straight back into training. To be frank this was just stupid! Furthermore, once I finally allowed my injury to force me to stop running my idea of a rest was to substitute a 60 minute run with a 60 minute walk. This did put less pressure on my leg but was still not the rest I am sure the physio had in mind. As you can probably tell, I love exercise and fresh air but, over the past three months, I have gradually scaled down my activity levels to the lowest level I can remember them being. I am probably still doing more than is advisable but since I replaced lengthy walks and cross training in the gym with a bit of swimming and aqua jogging I think my leg has started to recover.

Other factors in my injury have been suggested as being a weak core and weak gluts. This is probably accurate given, until three months ago, I had never done a proper core workout in my life. I am now doing them twice a week in the hope that this will help prevent a recurrence of injury once I am running again. My injury also came soon after I switched to wearing flats for intervals in training. Clearly this is something many people do but up until that point I have done all of my runs in trainers and I was now doing about 40% of my running in flats which give less support. I feel that has to have been a contributing factor. Furthermore, various blood tests have also shown I am deficient in calcium, which helps explain why my bones feel so sore, vitamin D and iron. While I general try and avoid medicating or supplementing away a problem I have started taking some multi-vitamins in an attempt to sort out these deficiencies.

While I will never say I am glad to have been injured, having such a long break from running has taught me many valuable things. Primarily it has reinforced within me how much I love running – I don’t care at the moment how fast I am going, I just want to run! When I am back running (I pray this will be soon!) I will be a wiser runner and hopefully more able to avoid serious injuries like this in the future.

I hope to get back to you with better news next time!


Aqua Jogging

After nearly a month I have finally got around to writing my next blog. Given my hatred of the treadmill and my love of the outdoors you can probably guess from the title of this blog that I am currently injured. I haven’t run since 6th December (yes, I am counting….) due to leg injury that may or may not be a stress fracture depending on which physio I ask. In any case, when you notice your leg is feeling odd when walking, or even sometimes when sitting, it is a sign that running has to temporarily go out of the window, its high impact nature making it one of the worst things you can do when nursing a leg injury.

After I eventually accepted that I had to reduce the amount of walking I was doing as well as stopping running I began increasing the amount of cross training I was doing in an attempt to ensure I will not be starting from base zero when I am eventually able to run again. Unfortunately my slow pace of recovery saw the physio inform me that even using the cross trainer in the gym should be avoided for the time being and thus I turned to the swimming pool. I do enjoy swimming, having been able to swim since the age of two, but my reason for avoiding it initially was that ploughing up and down lengths does not use the leg muscles I need for running.

After mentioning this to a friend he suggested I try aqua jogging and I am now doing this regularly. The principle is very simple – you put on a flotation belt, get out of your depth in the swimming pool and then perform exactly the same running actAqua joggingion you would use on land. Aqua jogging is a great way to cross train for running because it is essentially zero impact on your leg and still uses the necessary leg muscles. It gives your thighs especially a real workout! See this article for a longer and more in depth break down of the benefits of aqua jogging –

I have to admit that I felt a bit silly the first time I tried aqua jogging. The flotation belt is quite a bulky item and it has to be the slowest method of moving through the water I have ever tried. Added to that is the fact that you have to remain out of your depth so you end up very slowly doing half lengths in the slow lane of the swimming pool.

However, aqua jogging does give you a proper workout which is something I had been really missing because, for me, swimming and the gym just do not have the same effect as running. Aqua jogging is also clearly not the same as you can hardly aqua jog across the fields but there is something comforting about going through the motions of running even if it is indoors in a swimming pool. Aqua jogging does suffer from the same boredom issues as the gym but, in the gym, my injury confined me to one piece of equipment whereas I can mix up aqua jogging, swimming and swimming drills to make a bit more interesting.

Aqua jogging can never replace running but it is a good stop gap to help ensure I retain some level of fitness until my leg is finally recovered and I can go back to what I love.