What steps should I take if I think I have an injury, and how can I prevent reinjuring myself?
That is a difficult one without knowing what the injury is and what your definition of injury is. During my training I would have many instances where I would have a pain, spiral into a world of panic that my season was done with, and then a few days later the pain would miraculously have disappeared. There are other pains that we deal with for a while as it progresses slowly from discomfort, to a little pain, to a good amount, to suddenly too much to bear, in which case you will likely be in a very different situation.
The best advice I have is that if something hurts all of a sudden while running and is enough to make you limp or change your running form at all, or if it hurts the rest of the day after running, take three days off immediately. It can be hard to be in those three days and wonder if you are wasting your fitness when maybe it would go away on its own, but in my experience it has always been better to play it cautious than add that extra three days of impact that makes it worse. If it feels better after a day, resist the urge to jump back in; stick with the three days. If it still hurts beyond the three days, go see a medical professional. Resist (as much as you possibly can!) the urge to ask Dr Google, as it will tell you you have 736 different injuries depending on which dark hole you end up going down ;). If seeing a physiotherapist, physical trainer or athletic trainer, or chiropractor is not possible, go see your general practitioner to get advice from them.
As for how to prevent reinjury, injuries are a part of running life; that is just a reality for us. However, you can give yourself the best opportunity to avoid them by first listening to that little voice in your head that says “Maybe I should stop” or “I’m too tired today” or “This doesn’t feel right.” We have been trained to push through that voice and listen to the critical one that tells us we are lazy or we are a failure if we don’t get it done. Most injuries are because of overdoing it in the combination of stressors that we have in our life.
The second thing I would add is to go find a strength coach to figure out where your weaknesses are, especially the one that has led to this injury. Even if you have a pain in your foot, the issue is not necessarily in your foot or even your leg, it could be overcompensation from your hips or glutes or even your back. A good strength coach will be able to look at the body as a whole and figure it out. Here are a few experts I recommend reaching out to if you live near them.
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