Whether you are just beginning your couch-to-5k training plan or you are a 50M+ ultramarathoner with 15+ years of experience, you’ve undoubtedly heard all about potential running injuries. While many runners do experience some form of a running-related injury — plantar fasciitis, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, etc. — most of them are preventable and the majority are recoverable. The statistics vary wildly from estimating that roughly 20% of runners to upwards of 80% of runners will be sidelined with an injury this year, many of them being beginners who will take it as a sign to end their running career long before they make it to the start line of their goal race.
Whatever your motivation is and whatever you’ve heard about running injuries, we are willing to bet you’ve heard about RICE as a recovery method. Many people hear it, and most will implement one of the interventions and neglect the rest (pun intended). In today’s post, we will review the R.I.C.E. injury recovery method and let you in on the extra letters that will get you back on the track quicker or prevent being sidelined altogether.
P is for Prevention
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — a motto to live by in nearly every facet of your life. The best treatment for any injury is prevention! Running injury prevention tips are plentiful. Stretch, warm-up, cross-train, cool down, strength-train, wear the right shoes, perfect your gait, run on even surfaces, etc. Being mindful of your body, your ability, and your terrain are key elements in preventing injury.
R is for Rest
Rest is really the only “cure” for a running injury. Most running injuries are caused by overuse and stress. Many runners set out to cover a distance without much thought about preparing or recovering the muscles and joints involved in the activity. There are so many soft tissues at play, and the high-impact of running is sure to cause problems every now and again. When you feel the onset of a running injury, the best course of action is to listen to your body and take a REST day. Resting does not mean you need to be idle, but it does mean that you should not stress the affected joint. For anyone who’s ever ignored this step and ran through the pain, they have surely paid the consequences.
While we are at it, it’s worth mentioning that the only time your body can actually heal is while you are sleeping. So, maybe skip your long run and swap it for a good nap. Your next run will prove how beneficial that move was!
I is for Ice
Ice baths, ice packs, cryo-chambers, etc., are all great for injury recovery and pain reduction. Ice helps to reduce swelling, which is the cause of the majority of running injuries. Ice promotes the contraction of soft tissues including the muscle, tendons, and ligaments, which helps prevent further injury and decreases pain. It is important to note that when the ice does its job and you aren’t in as much pain, this does not mean it’s time to run again! R is for rest and rest comes before ice!
C is for Compression
Many runners proactively or preemptively use compression as a means to prevent and treat running injuries simultaneously. Compression can help reduce lactic acid build up and promote optimal blood flow for adequate muscle perfusion. Likewise, compression helps to control and reduce inflammation, which is the main cause of decreased range of motion and pain. For most running injuries, a simple ace bandage wrap will do.
E is for Elevation
No, not training in the Colorado mountains, but elevating the affected limb. Again, this goes back to reducing the swelling and inflammation that is causing the pain and soft tissue damage. If it is your ankle, shin, or knee that is the source of pain, simply propping your foot up while sitting is enough elevation. Did we mention a good night’s sleep?
E is for Early Range of Motion
That’s right, a second E is not a typo. While immobilization used to be the standard for all musculoskeletal injuries, research over the last few decades has disproved this tactic as the best course of action. Early range of motion, even for joint replacement and other major surgeries has reduced recovery times and complications. For running injuries, early range of motion means simple stretching activities and gentle movement. Remember not to overdo it or jump back into running. We highly recommend speaking with your primary care provider or physical therapist for safe and effective exercises and stretches for your particular injury.
JMAC running insoles are meant to provide support to runners and absorb 92% of shock from the impact of striking the ground during running. In addition to practicing some of the prevention techniques discussed here, along with these helpful treatment tips, we hope that by wearing a pair of JMAC shock-absorbing insoles, you can go the distance, pain free! Join our online community of endurance athletes and learn more about our running insoles online. From our Colorado, family owned and operated shoe insert company, we hope to see you on the trails!