Posted in Team Finish Line.
What Is An Injury?
As runners, we all have experienced an injury at some point in our running life. It can be a frustrating and confusing time. The question we always ask ourselves is, why did I get injured? Although knowing why you got injured won’t make the injury go away, it will help you understand how to rehab and hopefully prevent future injuries. To help you answer this question let’s take a deeper dive into how an injury occurs and the body’s response to injury. Part II of this blog, coming soon, will address how to think about rehab and injury prevention.
How does an injury occur?
Injury occurs when there is too much force placed on a structure of the body and that structure fails.
Force that is applied to structure once causing injury is known as a traumatic injury. This might include broken bones from a fall, a torn ACL, or a pulled hamstring. Force that is applied repeatedly over time to a structure causing injury is known as an overuse injury. This might include patella tendonitis, hip bursitis, impingement injuries, and stress fractures. Usually, a running injury is an overuse injury. In either case, injury occurred because the body could not disperse the force being applied to a certain structure causing the structure to fail.
What is the body’s response to injury?
The simple answer is the body’s response to injury is pain. Pain is a naturally built-in warning signal to help prevent further damage to a structure of the body. The greater threat the injury has on your life the greater the pain will be. Let’s compare Traumatic injuries and overuse injuries.
Traumatic injuries are generally very painful because your body is telling you to get help now and fix the problem. If the problem is not fixed it may lead to serious long-lasting consequences. For example, you tear ACL skiing down a mountain. There is a lot of pain and swelling in your knee. Your body is forcing you to stop skiing and fix the problem which is now that your knee has no stability because the ACL is torn. Now imagine your body didn’t have any pain signals and you decided to try to go down the mountain with a torn ACL. Your knee could give out any time and cause you to fall again possibly causing even more injury. Pain is a good thing as it informs us that something is wrong.
Overuse injuries generally start off less painful and gradually increase over time. At first, the body doesn’t think an overuse injury is very serious because you can continue on with life without much consequence. The closer the overuse injury gets to becoming more serious the more pain you will experience. For example, you have patella tendonitis. At first, it hurt only after long runs or only for a short time while walking around until it warmed up. The pain is now more sharp in nature throughout the day and it takes a few days to be able to walk around “normal” again after a long run. The body is essentially sending you a warning signal that if you continue with the same training regiment without making any modifications your injury will only get worse (ie chronic tendonitis, rupture, etc…). Again, pain is our body’s of helping us prevent further injury.
STAY TUNED for PART II on rehab and injury prevention!