General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know? Rss Feed  
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2013-07-18 9:47 AM

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Subject: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?
I have been obsessing over injury prevention this year. A few years ago I got into trail running in a big way and lost 50 lbs over about 5 months. I began increasing my mileage much too quickly and eventually it lead to a pulled ITB that put me out of commission for over a year. My legs have never been quite the same since though I have gotten back into running, losing weight again but in a more healthy way (after having gained it all back after my initial injury), and I am doing triathlon training to help in the injury prevention, along with my now regular routine of stretching and rolling. I'm scared to death of having an injury like that again though.

Okay, getting to the point; When I was in highschool it was nice being able to understand the fact that my body could do MORE than I thought it could and I would just push myself beyond what I thought I could. All I did was reap the benefits and increase my fitness. Pain was a good thing.

Now that I am in 30's, this philosophy no longer applies. Sometimes pain is a good thing and it means you are pushing yourself beyond that plateau and onto the next level. Other times it seems it is the body's way of warning you something bad is about to happen.

My question to all of you is this: How do YOU know what type of pain is what? Achy sore muscles from a tough workout the day before so you go for a light workout today and work it out, or are those achy sore muscles a precursor to actually pulling something and leaving you on the couch. How do YOU know when you should work through soreness or take the day off (or do some other type of exercise...i.e. swim). ???


2013-07-18 11:27 AM
in reply to: keqwow

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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?
I really struggle with this too. I have no real advice to offer. I have been running for about 4 1/2 years with the last year of that tri training. I just go from one injury to the next. Did a lot of damage before I started tri training before really knowing how to properly train. Ya know, I feel like the little aches and pains that I worry about never add up to much of anything. Always seems like the big show stopping injuries pop up out of no where. I doubt that is really the case but that is how seems. Anyway, my approach to training is now slowing way down. Fast is for race days only. Will probably take a few months off of s/b/r in the off season to hit the weights hard and let my old injuries heal. I think the key things are strength, flexibility, and knowing how to train properly. Oh and most certainly proper form in all 3 sports. Now if I could just get a new body since I figured these things out. Good luck to you!
2013-07-18 11:32 AM
in reply to: keqwow

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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?

Tough question because everyone is different.  You have to really know your body.  Newbies often have no idea that their body can be so sore after a workout, and that it's not necessarily a bad thing.  I remember training a girl once with no exercise experience who kept stopping every five seconds because the weight lifting (with 5 pound dumbbells) "hurt".  I realized after awhile the girl had no concept of what a muscle burning  fatiguing felt like.

You as a more seasoned athlete should have a better grasp of muscle soreness versus the feeling of an injury coming on.  If you've raced or even just trained hard you should know that normal feeling of fatigue or exhaustion.  If the exhausted feeling lasts days instead of hours, your body may be telling you to take an easy day or day off.

I know I need an easy or rest day when almost every muscle in my body feels tight like a rock for several days in a row despite stretching and foam rolling (and sometimes sports massage).  At that point my workouts aren't as effective as normal anyway, so I ease up for a day or two.

As far as injury prevention, if you feel any sharp pain during exercise that's a definite sign of a problem and you should back off immediately and reassess.  Pain directly in the joints or spine is generally not a good sign.  

Muscle pain is a little more tricky.  The feeling of fatigue, or "burning out" of the muscle is a normal part of training.  If it's a constant dull ache over the course of days, that could be a problem.  Again, a sharp pain in a muscle, not good.

2013-07-18 12:44 PM
in reply to: keqwow

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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?

The older you get the more difficult this becomes.  I have aches and pains just getting out of bed in the morning.  I hobble around until I have a few cups of coffee and gradually through the morning I seem to loosen up.  If I truly listened to my body I'd be bed-ridden.  OK, it's not quite that bad but I do find that I have to take more chances then I used to in order to get in the volume that I want.  I'll ignore the first little twinge.  If it persists I'll alter course.

On the flip side, I am much more cautious and patient before I get to that point.  I am more inclined to reduce my pace or distance during a workout whereas in the past I would rarely alter a workout whence underway.  I've been through so many overuse injuries over the years and have made every mistake in the book.  I'm currently on my longest injury free stretch in decades.  I attribute this to making those mid-course corrections and have finally built enough base to withstand a few twinges with no damage done.  

2013-07-18 12:48 PM
in reply to: keqwow

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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?
I'm 43 and one of the best things I've done from an injury prevention standpoint is hire a coach. Despite taking precautions (avoiding back to back running days for the most part, recovery days after intensity) I always had nagging hip and achille issues. 8 months in with my coach I am way faster than I've ever been and nearly pain free (aside from the training soreness you reference). He has me do a lot more Zone 2 workouts than I've ever done but when I go hard, I go hard.

The irony is that my coach has been dealing with injuries because he pushes himself too hard. Goes to show that it's hard to be your own governor.
2013-07-18 2:16 PM
in reply to: keqwow

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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?
My general rule of thumb is that if you're pretty much equally sore all over, it's probably just fatigue and not an injury in the making, as long as you have a recovery workout. If the discomfort is localized in one muscle, joint, or side of the body, it's more likely to be a warning sign of a potential injury. This has served me pretty well over the years--34 years of running with very few injuries.


2013-07-18 2:44 PM
in reply to: keqwow

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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?

It's really something you have to learn for yourself as far as knowing what physical signs you should be looking for.  If you follow some conventional wisdom on not increasing your volume or intensity too much or too fast, that will really help, but ultimately if you are trying to push the fine line between effective training and over training...the only real way to find out is to get injured and learn from it.

Many people will find success being conservative and rarely get injured because of it.  They may be leaving a small amount of fitness on the table but it's worth it to them.  I would advise this approach.  But if you look at a lot of good runners in your area that are competitive, you will notice that they get injured rather often.  They may know when to back off (from experience) and only be sidelined for a few days or a week, but it's almost impossible to push the limits of your fitness while completely avoiding injury.

2013-07-18 3:56 PM
in reply to: keqwow

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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?
First: I am not a doctor, or a coach, or a physiotherapist, or a ... well anyone who might be in the know. Use at your own risk.

So, this is probably incomplete and misleading. You need to learn to feel your pain and ask yourself a few questions: When, where and how:

- Does it hurt at any time? only when rested? only when during exercise? If it hurts even in the morning after a good nights sleep before you get out of bed, then it's pretty bad. If it hurts only when doing exercise then it might be because of a particular movement, that should be avoided, e.g. swimmers shoulder a result of poor technique. If it hurts before/after exercise but not during, then I think it is often this soreness that builds up, do an easy workout.

- Where is the pain localised? Is it muscular or bone/joints? That is can you point to it and say, right there! ? Or is it around this area. A very localised pain is a sign of injury, a general pain or discomfort is typical soreness, stretching or an easy workout may do. If it is localised to bones or joints then it is bad, if it is muscular and not localised then it may just be the general soreness after a workout. Inflammation is a natural reaction but may be painful, use ice to reduce inflammation.

- How is the pain provoked? if it is not a permanent pain, then it may be provoked by a particular movement, putting weight on in a particular way. This can help also to localise the pain in particular if associated with joints. Is that movement a natural movement? For example a twisted ankle, is not natural, you need to strengthen the muscles around the joint to prevent twisting the ankle.

In the end you need to learn to read the signals your body gives, and sometimes this is by trial and error.

And then, rather than pushing to the limit, remember recovery is important, take two steps forward on back, that is build up some time, then rest, then build some more. Rule of thumb, 3 weeks build up, one week recovery.
2013-07-18 5:24 PM
in reply to: erik.norgaard


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Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?
New to tri. Started this past January training for my first sprint this past May. I hired a coach for swimming, of all my weakest event, I had a good cycling base as I was a former road and MTB racer. Running was another story. I trained slow, 10 min/mi, finally worked up to a sub 8 min for my sprint. Took 4th in my age goup, very happy seems all training helped. So I signed up for another in June. Trained a little harder more swim, bike and started working on my run speed. 3-4 days before the June tri felt a little sting in my right hip area, no big deal just a little pain. June tri run portion reduced to 9 min/mi finshed 5th ager. Still feeling i could work through another tri, signed up for one in July. This time took entire 5 days off prior to this tri to rest the hip. July tri run 10min/mi even had to stop and walk a few times for the time, bike was best time ever 23.1mph/16mi. Hip pain bad now. Rested several days after July tri tried to do a very lite slow easy run, didnt make it down the block. Came home called the doc for a visit. Now my season is over must not do anything for 4-5 weeks on meds. Went in for x-rays this morning, waiting for the other shoe to drop at this point. Not at all how I expected the season to end. On the good side I'm going to do everything they tell me to do. Can't wait till next spring and that first race!
2013-07-18 6:21 PM
in reply to: keqwow

Subject: RE: Injury prevention; Listening to the body, how do I know?
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