I've had two running injuries since I started running in 2011. Both times I successfully used some different rehab and prevention strategies that healed me and have kept me otherwise injury free. Here's what worked for me.
The first instance was a few months after I started running and affected my right hip. When I started running, I adopted the Chi Running technique, which focuses on correct form to prevent injuries. It takes a while to really get the form right, and I was still learning it, so I think it was the result of bad form. At that time, a friend who teaches yoga recommended Yin Yoga to heal my injury. Yin Yoga is very different from most types of yoga that people are familiar with. Instead of moving from posture to posture, you hold very deep stretches for long periods of time (5-7 minutes). Yin Yoga works the connective tissue instead of muscles. (Learn more.) My friend suggested practicing it once a day until my hip was healed and then once
a week for injury prevention. It worked so well at healing my hip that
I've done it once a week ever since.
The second instance was during the Turkey Trot last November. That was caused by stupidity. I didn't warm up, started out like a bat out of hell because it was so cold and I wanted to get warm, and ran on only the right side of the road, which, of course, is graded. That time I injured my left hip. In addition to weekly sessions of Yin Yoga and regular yoga several times a week, I tried a breathing technique I read about in Runner's World. The article by Budd Coates, Running on Air, advocates matching your breathing with your footsteps so that you are landing on a different foot when you exhale. Coates explains why it helps to prevent injuries:
"So always landing on the same foot at the beginning of exhalation
compounds the problem: It causes one side of your body to continuously
absorb the greatest impact force of running, which causes it to become
increasingly worn down and vulnerable to injury. Rhythmic breathing, on
the other hand, coordinates footstrike with inhalation and exhalation in
an odd/even pattern so that you will land alternately on your right and
left foot at the beginning of every exhalation. This way, the impact
stress of running will be shared equally across both sides of your body."
Because I'm used to focusing on my breathing and form by doing Chi Running and am used to belly breathing from yoga, I was able to pick up the rhythmic breathing very easily. Once I got the hang of it, my hip pain immediately disappeared. The only time I've even felt a twinge of pain since then is when I'm running at a hard pace; I still haven't mastered how to apply the breathing technique to a very fast pace.
I turned 40 last September, so injury prevention is top-of-mind for me. While I think a combination of everything I do has helped--regular yoga; yin yoga; yoga poses and stretches after each run; a five-minute warm-up consisting of Chi Running loosening up, lunge matrix, and leg swings; and Chi Running--I believe that Budd Coates' breathing technique has worked the best for quickly healing my hip and keeping me injury free. I feel very fortunate to be injury free and will end with these three words: Knock on wood!
Labels: injury prevention, injury rehab