When I wrote my first Triathlon Training post back in February, I was confident that there would be a few tears in the lead up to race day. Well, it finally happened; unfortunately I’ve joined the ITBS club. Injury to the iliotibial band or ITBS (Iliobital Band Syndrome) is often caused by overuse and sadly affects many runners, as well as cyclists, hikers and those who favour weight-training in the gym. In my case, it is quite simply preventing the normal function of my kinetic chain and as a result, I am currently experiencing awful pain in my knee when I’m running. So, no can do.
Dealing with an injury is seriously miserable, especially when you’re in training for a race. But there are many ways of coping with injury, physical and psychological, that can help speed up the recovery process.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
DON’T LIVE IN DENIAL
Ignorance is not bliss in this instance. If it hurts to run, don’t run. We’re all human and we need to acknowledge the signs that our body gives us when it is fatigued. Be smart and register the warning signs of an injury, don’t make it worse. Instead of ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away next time you lace up your trainers, educate yourself. Learn everything you can about the cause, treatment and prevention of your injury; seek advice from professionals and talk to other runners that may have experienced what you’re going through. By understanding why it hurts, you can feel a greater sense of control over the situation and ultimately take the steps you need to towards a speedy and stress-free recovery.
“Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do.”
DON’T GIVE IN TO YOUR EMOTIONS
There’s a real range of destructive emotions that we experience with injury. After denial comes anger, frustration and disappointment. Try to channel all these emotions and use the energy in a positive way moving forward. Be determined, celebrate small successes and focus on other areas of your training that may have been lacking, such as your diet and nutrition. This way, you’ll be in the best place possible upon recovery.
THE FOAM ROLLER IS YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
If you’ve ever got on the foam roller with a tight IT band, you’ll be all too familiar with that suddenly immobilising pain that renders you unsure whether to laugh or cry. Although this is initially preventative rather than remedial, the foam roller will help to release and lengthen your muscles, therefore relieving some of the pain associated with ITBS. So jump on it every chance you get. In the same way, you can also use a tennis ball to loosen the tension in your glutes.
“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.”
Live in the moment. Don’t get hung up about the training that you haven’t been able to do or speculate set-backs. That will snowball into frustration. Don’t give into it. Instead, accept the infinite possibility of the moment you’re in and acknowledge what you can do right now. By being mindful about injury, we can effectively exercise more control over the situation and make wiser choices on the road to recovery. Read my post on 7 Easy Ways To Practice Mindfulness Every Day for more tips on mindfulness.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO
Have foresight. Luckily, with running currently on hold, this gives me a chance to really focus on upping my game in the swimming pool and on the bike to maintain my fitness levels. That I guess is the great thing about Triathlon! And in the time that would normally be spent running, I’m focusing on progressive, remedial exercises. For those who suffer with ITBS, it is important to strengthen the muscles around your knee and in your glutes in the endeavour to achieve that correct alignment. So I’m focusing on things like clam shells, leg raises and serious stretching of the glutes, abductor and adductor muscles.
Whatever your injury, don’t let it get on top of you. Set appropriate goals and work positively and mindfully to achieve them. Just remember:
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”